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Local Leaders Balk at Nuclear Power Centers

Posted July. 19, 2004 22:14,   


The mayors and headmen of all of seven cities and counties who have submitted their residents’ petitions to attract nuclear power waste management facilities have declared they will not follow up with preparatory applications to build the nuclear power centers in their areas.

If these heads of self-governing bodies--a total of 10 areas--do not submit their preparatory applications before Sept. 15, only one candidate will remain for the nuclear power center, Wido in Buan-gun of North Cholla Province, who is already known to have submitted an application.

However, as there is overwhelming negative public opinion in Wido since last year’s “Buan incident,” chances are increasing that the government’s plan to build nuclear power centers by the end of this year will fall through.

Yesterday, Dong-A Ilbo interviewed the mayors and heads of the seven cities and counties, including Ganghwa-gun in Incheon, regarding their opinion on the preparatory application. All of them made their rejection clear.

Ryu Byung-ho, headman of Ganghwa-gun, said, “Even the residents who signed the petition to attract the nuclear power center are now opposing. So we will not make our preparatory application.”

Kim Jong-shik, headman of Wando-gun in South Cholla, said emphatically that he is not considering the preparatory application. He added that the county council expressed strong opposition against building the nuclear power center.

Another four county headmen and one mayor said they will not make the preparatory application either. The list includes Kim Bong-yeol of Younggwang-gun in South Cholla, Kim In-gyu of Jangheung-gun in South Cholla, Lee Kang-soo of Gochang-gun in North Cholla, Kang Geun-ho of Gunsan City in North Cholla, and Kim Yong-soo of Uljin-gun in North Gyungsang.

After the Sept. 15 deadline, the government plans to solicit the opinions of residents of applying regions through polls, and then confirm the locations of nuclear power centers by the end of this year after receiving their final application. Therefore, if the heads of self-governing bodies do not make their preparatory applications, the location selection process will have to be delayed until next year or beyond.

However, most predict that the local leaders will not aggressively pursue nuclear power centers in their regions so close to the 2006 regional elections.

Cho Seok, chief of the Nuclear Power Development Support Committee in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy , said, “There is no justification or practical use of applying government force to develop nuclear power centers without residents’ consent after experiencing the Buan incident. There is currently no solution.”

Ki-Jeong Ko koh@donga.com