[EDITORIALS]Don't let that tank burst

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[EDITORIALS]Don't let that tank burst

The government has suddenly come forth with plans to reinforce the Peace Dam on the upstream Bukhan River. It even wants to empty the Hwacheon reservoir located further down stream. This is another example of how the government continually misses the beat.

North Korea started filling the Geumgangsan Dam reservoir two years ago. Then an untimely winter flood hit the area. That Seoul was not aware of this is hard to believe. If the government kept the information from the public -- perhaps not to provoke the North in the sunshine policy drive -- an act of gross negligence has been committed. In any case, the government is talking about reinforcing the structure of a lower-stream dam.

The government reportedly is planning to propose to Pyeongyang that a team of inspectors take a look at the Geumgangsan Dam. Seoul would offer engineers and equipment for any reinforcement work needed. We cannot ascertain the outcome of the talks. Water resources can be the most difficult international issue. But a potential collapse of the Geumgangsan Dam is more ominous for the South. The government cannot afford to neglect a coordinated response.

Reinforcement of the Peace Dam and the flood control network of Hwacheon Dam is urgent. We are also almost completely without a warning system and evacuation plans in the event that the dams collapse.

The North has not even shown interest in the South's proposals unless they are accompanied by economic assistance, and this time will likely be the same. If the dam does break, the consequence will be not only enormous physical damage but also the collapse of whatever trust has been established between the South and North. The government must give this issue priority and demand that Pyeongyang show sincerity. The people of the South should not have to live, as they say in the regions adjacent to the waterway, "with a tank full of water on your head."
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