[EDITORIALS]A home for nuclear wasteFinally a local government has applied for nuclear-waste disposal facilities to be built on its territory. Buan-gun in North Jeolla province volunteered to solve a 20-year-old national problem. The residents’ decision is praiseworthy and broad-minded; more typically, nuclear-waste disposal facilities arouse “Not In My Back Yard” sentiments.
We cannot deny that we have reacted sensitively to the possible dangers of nuclear energy, instead of recognizing its benefits. We have failed to secure even a building site for a disposal facility, although Korea is the sixth-largest nuclear power-generating country and relies for about 40 percent of its electricity on nuclear energy. Of 31 nuclear power countries, only five, including Korea, Taiwan and Belgium, have no waste-disposal facility.
Buan’s application will be finalized after necessary examinations such as a geological survey and a study of the effect on the marine environment. There is the possibility that the project may yet be canceled, as happened in Gureopdo and Anmyeondo, where some residents resisted the facility till the end.
When Buan’s application is completed, the project will pump 2 trillion won ($1.7 billion) into the local economy, including 600 billion won for local development. Over 90 percent of the residents of Wido, where the facility will be built, approved the application. The government should consider additional assistance to the residents.
The safety of nuclear disposal facilities is proven by safe operations in other countries. Korea is recognized as having the technical expertise to operate such facilities. But people harbor a vague unease over nuclear power, because of intransigent government policy. It must make sure to build a safe facility and operate it with complete safety. The Buan residents’ decision should be a good precedent for fostering national development in harmony with the environment.