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Sixty-three SNU Professors: “Build Nuclear Waste Repository in Seoul National University”

Sixty-three SNU Professors: “Build Nuclear Waste Repository in Seoul National University”

Posted January. 07, 2004 23:12,   


“Out of scholarly integrity, we want to show the nation that the nuclear waste plant is safe.”

Sixty-three professors at Seoul National University (SNU) proposed that a nuclear waste deposit should be built on the SNU campus which is located on the foot of Mt. Gwanak.

At a press conference on January 7, seven SNU professors, including Prof. Kang Chang-sun of the department of nuclear engineering and Prof. Hwang Woo-seok of the department of veterinary medicine, proposed that the university should house the depository on campus and sent the open proposal, endorsed by 63 professors, to Chung Un-chan, the university’s president.

“We conclude that we cannot just sit idly by when protests over the nuclear waste plant is raging on in the Buan county of North Jeolla province,” said the professors, adding, “With the scientific confidence that the facility won’t cause any safety concerns, we’d like to take the lead.”

“Although the reprocessing and management of radioactivity waste is an important national project, it did not go anywhere in the past 18 years,” the professors continued, “SNU, which benefits most from society and the government, should use its knowledge and information and set an example.”

“The Seoul metropolitan area, where SNU is located, benefits most from the nuclear power plants,” they contended. They concluded, “The SNU campus is not the best location technically, but it is a feasible location in light of the social costs.”

Prof. Kang, who is a safety adviser of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said, “Although we need more research, I believe the SNU campus is on a rock floor, an appropriate location to house a depository for low and intermediate waste as well as a half-way depot for nuclear fuel.” He added, “It can also house an underground facility for intermediate and high level waste.”

“I became heartbroken when I saw the desperate protests by Buan residents who were fearful of the facility,” Prof. Hwang said and continued, “As a scientist I believe if the facility is safe, the SNU should lead the way and convince them of its safety. If not safe, it should propose the government to scrap the plans.”

“I made the proposal out of scholarly integrity and patriotism,” said Prof. Hwang, his voice choked with tears. He added, “I cannot look the other way when radioactive material management has become a burden of the country and society.”

“There are no official positions taken on the proposal,” the university administration said. “We consider the proposal was prompted by the professors’ ardent patriotic sentiments.”

“If extensive research concludes there is feasibility for the proposal, we may consult with the local government, local residents as well as other related institutions,” the administration said. “We cannot predict the conclusion because what the residents would think about it is more important.”

“It is very regrettable that the professors have announced the proposal without prior discussions with the Gwanak district office,” the office said in a statement and added, “With the Buan protests unresolved, the debate about the proposal itself is inappropriate.”

“This is a useless, impromptu gesture,” the Buan Settlement Committee said, criticizing the proposal. It concluded, “If this was not a political stunt, they should have sought consensus from all members of the SNU community, Gwanak district residents, and mountain climbers who use Mountain Gwanak before going public with the proposal.”