The cost of billions of won for the disposal of illegally dumped garbage is being levied on poor landowners. Administrative measures are being taken to charge landowners for disposal costs instead of speculators who have secretly dumped hundreds or thousands of tons of waste. The amount of indemnification requested by the local government to the land owner after removing the garbage reached 33.7 billion won over the past three years. For those who didn't even know the mountain of trash was piling up, it's an out-of-the-blue “bill bomb.”
The Dong-A Ilbo investigation found that an elderly couple who bought land in the countryside to prepare for retirement were asked for indemnification of nearly 500 million won and eventually the land was confiscated. Landowners are also in debt because they failed to pay 3.3 billion won of indemnification. There have been several cases where criminal charges have even been filed for failing to comply with orders to remove the trash on time. It is said that there are at least 123 such victims nationwide. It is absurd to think that the total burden will reach up to 100 billion won, including the costs these landowners will have to bear in the future.
The current Wastes Control Act stipulates that not only garbage dumpers but also land owners are subject to waste disposal orders and are subject to the same responsibilities. This is the basis for excessive billing to landlords who are relatively easy to bill, instead of speculators who hold out with a “catch me if you can” manner. An amendment was proposed the following year after the “Uiseong Garbage Mountain” incident, which had given the nation a black eye by foreign media reports in 2019, but no progress has been made in the discussion so far.
Another problem is that local governments are consistently taking lukewarm measures. Some city officials refused to respond even after receiving reports of illegal dumping, saying they did not have the authority to stop the dumping or stopped short of taking verbal action. This is an irresponsible administration that virtually neglects the deterioration of the situation. Since 2019, the reality that the garbage secretly dumped in 400 places nationwide is close to 2 million tons is the result of such irresponsibility. This effectively led to victims being shortchanged and made them suffer economically and psychologically to the extent that they contemplated extreme decisions.
Illegal dumping of waste is a crime that causes terrible smells and dust and pollutes the environment. The illegal dumping crime, whose methods are gradually evolving, cannot be stopped by the negligent administration that fails to stop this in time and belatedly transfers the cost of disposal to innocent landowners. The government should strengthen crackdowns and expedite the process of amending the Wastes Control Act. We should not forget that even as we speak when we are passive about law revision because we are only looking for the next target to charge for, a mountain of garbage is piling up somewhere. The damage of unfair landowners continues to increase.