[FOUNTAIN] Lesson of a Trash Ship's Odyssey

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[FOUNTAIN] Lesson of a Trash Ship's Odyssey

In March 1987, Mobro 4000, a barge filled with 3,168 tons of trash, left Islip, a small town near New York City. The barge set sail in search of somewhere to dump its load, since Islip had failed to find a proper way to dispose of its mounds of garbage. The Mobro wandered from port to port in North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, looking for a place that would let it unload its cargo. But the barge was turned away everywhere it went in the United States.

In a desperate attempt, the barge tried to land at foreign ports - in Mexico, Belize and the Bahamas - but was refused permission to drop anchor. After a 6,000-mile, six-month odyssey covering the six states and three foreign countries, the garbage barge finally trudged back to Islip with its trash.

A new term, NIMBY, came into usage at that time, the acronym of "Not In My Back Yard." This term is used when citizens strongly object to the construction of unwanted public facilities near their homes or communities. PIMFY - "Please In My Front Yard" - is used when citizens do their best to encourage the construction of a facility in their neighborhood that may profit them. The BANANA Syndrome is an extreme version of NIMBY, meaning "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody."

NIMBYism is a burden in every country. Each society takes its own measures to tackle the problem. New York City created "Fair Share Criteria" after learning a lesson from the garbage odyssey. The city made it a rule that all city areas should share both the gains and losses that result when a public facility is established in the city.

Accordingly, New York uses a compensation system. The residents in a given area where an unwanted public facility is constructed are compensated with cash, tax exemptions or job creation plans.

The Seoul Metropolitan City Authority's plan to establish a second crematorium has encountered a typical NIMBY reaction. Due to resistance from residents, a planned public hearing on the project was canceled.

The residents insist the crematorium should not be built in their area, though they have a high opinion of the city's plan to set up a crematorium as a well-equipped memorial park where the dead have dignity and lay in peace. Popular preference for cremation has increased, but the nation's crematoriums have reached capacity.

In such a situation, the dead might have to go on an odyssey, just like the New York garbage ship did in the '80s.

by Bae Myung-bok

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