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Nuclear Waste Facility Vote Ends Today

Posted November. 03, 2005 07:19,   


Four areas which bid to host a medium- and low-level radioactive waste facility held local referendums on November 2.

The votes could wrap up the issue of the radioactive waste site selection which has remained in limbo for 19 years.

According to the National Election Commission, the votes started at 6:00 a.m. on this day in Gyeongju, Pohang, and Yeongdeok in Gyeongbuk Province and Gunsan in Jeonbuk Province which applied for hosting the facility, and the average turnout stood at 56.48 percent as of 5:00 p.m.

Among the four candidates, Yeongdeok marked the highest turnout of 64.35 percent, followed by Gyeongju (61.34 percent), Gunsan (60.41 percent), and Pohang (39.11 percent).

Polling stations were closed at 6:00 p.m., and the winner is expected to be known 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 of the votes must be in favor of attracting such a facility. The city or country with the highest supporting rate will be chosen as the site.

The government is planning to designate the chosen site as an area to host power facilities by year end. Also, it intends to begin construction as early as 2007 after applying for permission to build and manage radioactive waste facilities and for approval of a plan to operate such facilities next year.

A chosen site will receive 300 billion won in an initial special assistance, an annual average of 8.5 billion won in fees on shipment of radioactive waste, and such benefits as hosting the headquarters of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power and winning an accelerator complex project.

The government is planning to hold a meeting of relevant ministers today to release measures to appease the sentiment of people in areas which will lose the site competition. Among the attendees to the meeting which Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan will preside over will be the minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy; the minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs; and the minister of Science and Technology.

Chang-Won Kim Ki-Jeong Ko changkim@donga.com koh@donga.com