[EDITORIALS]The dons and the dumpA group of Seoul National University professors have offered to allow the much-debated nuclear waste disposal facility inside the university campus, a pleasant shock. The professors said the important project has made no progress for 18 years, and that was a waste of national energy. They said they would take the initiative to show the nation that disposal of nuclear waste can be safe.
We praise the scholars’ resolve to fulfill their social responsibility by taking the lead to resolve a national predicament. We hope their action results in a fruitful outcome.
The plan to build the facility on Wido island in Buan county failed largely because of the people’s doubts about safety. Environmental groups and residents protested fiercely against the construction, as if a terrible ecological disaster was predestined. Residents in Buan said, “Build the facility in Seoul, if it is really safe.”
Under such circumstances, the professors proposed their school’s campus as a site of the nuclear waste dump. That has provided a breakthrough for the stalled discussions on the issue.
Scholars from many fields joined the initiative, and the leadership of Korea’s top nuclear scientist Kang Chang-sun is meaningful. “There is no safety concern over building the nuclear waste dump underground on the Seoul National University campus,” Professor Kang said. The initiative set forth a model of how intellectuals should participate in social issues.
We anticipate that the professors’ proposal will be accepted. The scale of the facility may not be as large as that which the government intended, but it could be a good model to promote the safety of nuclear waste dumps. The government should also change its approach, and stop encouraging support by holding hands with local officials and luring the people with offers of compensation.
The government should give enough information to the people and let them decide what they want to do. Professors, since they took the initiative, should also try to persuade the school and nearby residents to make the project a reality.