[EDITORIALS]Accept Buan voters’ decisionThe referendum held Saturday in Buan showed that the overwhelming majority of residents opposed the plan to build a nuclear waste plant in their region.
Over 70 percent of the residents showed up for the vote, greater than the percentage that participated in the 2002 local elections, and 91.8 percent of the voters voted nay. In all consideration, we do not see this vote as having been a fair and objective one.
The government did not do enough to explain the safety of the facility and the residents’ opposition probably stemmed from their anger and distrust at having been pushed around unilaterally by the government.
Nevertheless, although the referendum does not have any legal effect, it seems wise for the government to humbly accept the decision and seek other alternatives for building the nuclear waste plant.
Yet, the government and North Jeolla province do not seem to be reacting rationally to the referendum. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said that since the referendum has no legal effect, it would not be bound by the result.
The provincial government declared that it would hold a legally binding vote after enabling legislation goes into effect. Saturday’s referendum might not have any legal effect but it was enough to verify the opinion of the residents.
Therefore, what the government must do now is accept the opinion of the Buan residents and abandon the plan to build a nuclear waste plant there. To ignore the public consensus and hold yet another referendum would be foolish.
The government must look at the fundamental reason why its plan to designate a site for a nuclear waste plant has failed three times in a row with the islands of Anmyeondo, Guleopdo and now, Buan.
The government must accept the fact that it has failed so far because it has neglected to provide sufficient information.
Now the government must go about it the right way. It should find a new site.
If the government doesn’t want to repeat its mistakes, it should ensure the transparency of the procedures while guaranteeing more actual participation by the residents and their representatives.