Go to contents

A Four-Way Struggle Between Gyeongju, Pohang, Gunsan, Yeongdeok

A Four-Way Struggle Between Gyeongju, Pohang, Gunsan, Yeongdeok

Posted August. 31, 2005 06:49,   


As of August 30, a day before the deadline of applying for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste facilities, the competition has narrowed down to four cities and county.

The cities of Gyeongju and Pohang in North Gyeongsang Province, Gunsan in North Jeolla Province, as well as Yeongdeok County in North Gyeongsang all handed in their applications for the facilities to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) on August 30. On the same day, the City Council of Samcheok in Gangwon Province voted down a bill applying for the facility, 7–4, with one invalid vote.

The prospective sites for the nuclear waste repository are Bonggil-ri, Yangbuk-myeon in Gyeongju; Sangok-ri, Jukjang-myeon in Pohang; Sangwon-ri, Chuksan-myeon in Yeongdeok; and Bieung Island in Soryong-dong, Gunsan, each with a size ranging between 300,000 and one million pyeong (990,000 and 3.3 million square meters).

The four cities and county will be going through the process of a final governmental examination on the suitability of the sites, a proposal of a plebiscite by heads of local governments (before October 22), followed by all the residents voting on the decision (before November 22), as well as other procedures.

The government had announced earlier that if more than two local bodies apply for the facility, the region with the highest resident approval ratings will be chosen as the final candidate.

More regions than originally expected have signed up for the facility, which seems to be a result of the procedures which make it mandatory to gain the agreement of local assemblies and to carry out plebiscites, as well as a special act which provides incentives such as 300 billion won in support funding, relocating the headquarters of the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company, and establishing a proton accelerator.

Uljin County of North Gyeongsang Province had been a strong candidate in the beginning, but the motion was rejected on August 29 by a vote of 5-5 in the county council.

Uljin had been considered most likely to win the bid as it scored the highest resident approval ratings in government surveys carried out in possible regions for building the nuclear dumpsite. The county also had favorable geological and topographical conditions, as well as a nuclear power plant already in operation.

When its county council delayed passing the bill on the waste disposal facility, Buan County of North Jeolla Province declared on August 30 that it will hand in its application to MOCIE on the deadline of the August 31, through use of the local government head’s right to make prior decisions authorized by the local autonomous government law. The application does not look likely to take place however, as the county council is still opposing the plan.

Sung-Jin Choi Chang-Soon Choi choi@donga.com cschoi@donga.com