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Radioactive Waste Facility Vote Today

Posted November. 02, 2005 05:07,   


Local referendums on hosting medium- and low-level radioactive waste facilities will be held in Gyeongju, Pohang, and Yeongdeok in Gyeongbuk Province, and Gunsan in Jeonbuk Province today.

The votes could wrap up the radioactive facility site selection process, which has remained in limbo for 19 years.

Polling stations will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. today. The results are expected to come out around midnight.

For a city or country to attract a radioactive waste facility, one-third or more of eligible voters must vote, and a majority must vote for attracting such a facility. The city or country with the highest supporting rate will be chosen as the site.

There is concern over possible irregularities due to the heated competition among local governments to attract a nuclear waste facility.

Gyeongju and Gunsan in particular already secured a voter turnout level of almost 30 percent, and their absentee vote turnouts reached as high as 80 percent.

“In order to prevent controversy over irregularities, we have beefed up the management of votes by deploying National Election Commission officials and police officers,” said Oh Young-ho, policy manager at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.

The government is discussing ways to placate the people who live in cities or counties that fail to attract a radioactive waste site.

“We are planning to convene a meeting of relevant ministers on the morning of November 3 to announce a plan to support the chosen city or county, and separate measures to support those areas that were not chosen,” a ministry official said.

The government had originally planned not to offer any financial compensation to the local governments that lose the site competition, but changed its policy to support them. Some experts say that the change comes from concerns that residents of the losing cities or counties might turn against the government.

After selecting a site, the ministry will designate the site as a radioactive waste disposal area sometime this year and start construction in 2007.

Chang-Won Kim changkim@donga.com