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Heated Debate over the Water Quality of Samangeum Lake

Posted July. 18, 2003 22:08,   


Heated debate occurred over the water quality of Samangeum Lake at a merit court trial.

The lawsuit was brought by environmental groups against the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to cancel the reclamation project of Saemangeum tideland.

During the trial at the Seoul Administrative Court on Friday, the head of the Graduate School for Environmental Studies at the Seoul National University, Kim Jeong-uk, and a researcher at the Korea Environment Institute, Dr. Jo Seung-heon, was called as witness to the plaintiff-the environmental groups. They talked mainly about problems in the measures for dealing with water quality at Samangeum Lake and unreasonable operations of joint research team between the public and private sector back in 1999.

Professor Kim with SNU, who was the chief of division for water quality research in the joint research team in 1999, argued that Lee Sang-eun, the professor of Environment and City Construction at Ajou University, arbitrarily wrote a report based his own opinion that water from Samangeum Lake could be used for agricultural purposes. The report was submitted to then prime minister. Professor Kim criticized the problems in applying the standard for water quality to Samangeum Lake, the little possibility of the Samangeum development scenario to be realized and little considerations for a special kind of water quality degradation. He cited these facts as grounds for refuting the Agriculture Ministry’s argument that water quality of Samangeum Lake could be maintained to grade 4. The Agriculture Ministry answered back to the professor, saying that the current measures for protecting water quality is different for those in 1999 when the professor Kim was participating in the research. The ministry also said that the construction of Samangeum lake has been giving due regard to environmental facilities, unlike the one in Siwha Lake.

The Agriculture Ministry submitted as evidence a report written by a commission for environment protection measures for Samangeum and a report that water quality at the mouth of Dongjin River and Mangyeong river have been improving.

Meanwhile, the court unusually said that it expects a heated debate at the trial as the decision at the merit court does not affect the suspension decision of the reclamation project of Samangeum. The court also said that it would soon decide the scope of suspension on the reclamation project.

The Agriculture Ministry called as witnesses five experts at home and abroad including Bart Schultz, the former president of International Commission on Irrigation and Drainange, and Heo Yu-man, the chief of Rural Research Institute. Bart Schultz was a government official from the Netherlands, which is famous for reclamation projects. He will testify his countries’ cases. Environmental groups called as a witness Adolf Kellerman, the chief of ecological system research unit in the German Environmental Protection Agency. The next trial will be held around August 18th or 20th.

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