[EDITORIALS]Naysayers try to back outIn Buan, North Jeolla province, which has submitted a request for construction of a nuclear waste dump, rallies against the facility are held daily. During a demonstration yesterday, a truck rammed the local government building, injuring scores of people. The broadminded decision of Buan residents to provide a home for an unpopular facility is being attacked by naysayers. Some worry the issue has opened a deep divide among Buan residents.
The government has accepted Buan’s request for 600 billion won ($507 million) in subsidies, and the selection committee was about to designate Buan as the construction site. Opposition among residents and civic groups was expected to lead to some rough sailing. Reaching a concession in our society is not easy. Protests against nuclear waste facilities show how deeply society is divided.
Yesterday’s violent protest, however, has crossed the line. We wonder whether violence is the only means to expressing opposition to an idea. Although in a free society everybody is free to express his opinion, the spearheading of the demonstration by the secretary general of the ruling party raises problems. Environmentalists should understand that opposing an idea without presenting options is no longer acceptable. If the environmental movement’s goal is harmony of life and environment, they will accomplish more by recognizing they live in the real world.
The Buan government should be faulted for failing to take into account the views of all the area’s residents before it submitted the request for the nuclear dump. But the lack of consensus cannot be a reason to withdraw the request. According to a geological survey conducted by the selection panel, there is no active fault near Wido island. This supports views that the area is suitable for the facility.
The government must calm residents’ fears. Rumors and exaggerations about the nuclear program have intensified demonstrations. If necessary, residents should be invited to participate in the construction and management of the facility. Protests will not lead to a solution, they only create confusion and make national projects more burdensome.