[EDITORIALS]Let democracy workA poll of residents on whether to invite a nuclear waste disposal facility to be set up in their neighborhood is to take place on Nov. 2 at cities and counties that applied to host the site. Even before the voting takes place, some civic and environmental groups have threatened not to accept the result of the voting. They argue that the voting is tainted by power and money. They can point out problems and demand corrections if there are problems in the voting process. In the past, there were cases of excessive inducements on the part of local governments. But it is not proper to declare in advance that a group will not accept the poll’s results.
The selection of a site for the construction of a nuclear waste disposal depot has failed seven times in a row in the past 19 years. Considering that medium to low level nuclear waste from 20 nuclear power plants at temporary storage sites will start overflowing in 2008, construction of a waste disposal plant can no longer be postponed. But when we recall the violent confrontations at Anmyeon island and Buan in the past, we are afraid of allowing another waste of national power like that. People want environmental groups to change too. The referendum of residents is an advanced system that will gather the will of the local community in the most fair and democratic way. So, the residents of four applicant areas ― Gyeonggu, Pohang and Yeongdeok in North Gyeongsang province and Gunsan in North Jeolla province ― must decide the future of their community on their own.
Before the poll, there have been confrontations between local governments and environmental groups and between residents who support the plan and who are against it. Some local governments in the areas have reacted against the plan. But there are no signs that major conflicts will surface. Still the intervention of local governments and distribution of money that have been pointed out by civic and environmental groups should be corrected immediately. That is necessary at a minimum to avoid backlashes after the voting. Problems with nearby local governments must be solved through dialogue.
The voting should be transparent and fair so that everyone can accept the results. Otherwise, we may again be swept into turmoil, conflict and confrontation. Civic and environmental groups should also cooperate in an effort to judge the intent of the residents.