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Taean Slowing Returning to Normal After Oil Spill

Posted December. 06, 2008 10:04,   


“Until early this year, we were so worried that we talked like grown-ups with friends, saying, ‘What should we do now?’ But we’ve begun talking about everyday topics such as celebrities again,” the upbeat middle school student Choi Ju-hee, 13, said.

Things in Taean County are slowing returning to normal since the area was hit with the country`s worst oil spill in December last year. Sunday will mark the first anniversary of the spill.

Choi`s parents from June resumed gathering short-necked shells, the main source of their income.

Choi’s family held a meeting in December last year when her parents were the last ones to return home every day after helping clean-up efforts and town meetings on financial assistance.

“Our family had a meeting on how to save money. I suggested reducing the number of lamps and putting water in a bucket to wash our hair,” Choi wrote in her journal.

Fourth grader Choi Min-yong, 10, says the thing that makes him happiest is that he does not have to move to another town.

His father, 38, opened a seafood restaurant in his hometown Pado-ri in 2005 after leaving his company. “Though the number of customers has considerably dropped, we resumed the business this summer. He had considered returning to a city after the oil spill on the West Coast lost him nearly all of his customers.

Song Yu-jin, 12, had to look after her younger siblings and make dinner for the family because all of her adult relatives always came home late after cleaning up the oil spill. The six-grader said she is so thankful for getting back to her normal life.

Her mother said, “My children are so happy to see me return home early and cook dinner, which I’ve been able to do so since I began to gather seaweed again.”

Jo Jae-jin, the principal of Pado Elementary School, said with a smile, “Children can now have a normal school life again.”

Park Byeong-cheol of the Committee for the Prevention of Pado Elementary School’s Closure launched a campaign to save the school. Education authorities had sought to merge the school with another as the number of students dwindled. The committee also gave fishing rights to new residents coming to the village with elementary school-age children.

“Fortunately, people who moved here before the accident have not left,” Park said.

A ceremony with the theme “The First Anniversary of the Oil Spill, Reborn West Coast” was held at Taean Culture and Art Center in Taean County yesterday with some 2,000 people attending, including Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, South Chungcheong Province Governor Lee Wan-koo and Taean Mayor Jin Tae-gu.

A monument inscribed with a poem praising the selfless efforts of volunteers was also unveiled at Mallipo Beach.