Incheon wants no more garbage in its landfill

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Incheon wants no more garbage in its landfill

The conflict over extending the life of Incheon’s metropolitan landfill between Seoul and Incheon city governments is escalating.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is insisting that the area must continue to take waste from Seoul, Gyeonggi and Incheon through 2044, or another three decades.

Incheon’s city government said locals have had enough of the facility and want it to stop taking garbage in three years.

The landfill was created in Incheon’s Seo District in February 1992 to handle waste from the metropolitan areas. About 44 percent of the waste comes from Seoul while only 17 percent comes from Incheon. According to the Seoul city government, an average of 16,500 tons of trash are sent from Seoul to the Incheon landfill every day.

In the past month, the Seoul city government has been trying to persuade Incheon that the landfill can be used for many more years. Earlier predictions that it would be filled to capacity by the end of 2016 were faulty, it said. Because the country has consistently reduced the amount of trash it generates and improved waste management methods, only 55 percent of the landfill is used, Seoul claimed.

In April, the Seoul city government produced about 300,000 flyers describing its argements and distributed them. It has also been displaying the information on a digital billboard near Seoul Plaza in central Seoul as well as in subway stations. The city government argued that creating another landfill would be inefficient and cost taxpayers at least 3 trillion won ($2.75 billion).

The Incheon city government argued that about 700,000 residents live within a five-kilometer (3.1-mile) radius of the landfill, and they suffer from its smell and dust.

It said that the average airborne dust concentration on normal roads in Incheon is 102 per cubic meter but on the road used in transport waste to the landfill is 249 per cubic meter. The Incheon city government also distributed flyers with its arguments. It said the information will be posted on its official Web site soon.

“We have been consistently requesting Seoul to find a solution, but they haven’t done anything,” Heo Jong-sik, the spokesman of the Incheon city government told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “They had 20 years to prepare for this, but they neglected providing trash reduction measures such as garbage incineration plants.”

According to the Incheon government, Seoul needs to have at least 10 garbage incineration plants, but there are only four: in Yangcheon, western Seoul; Nowon, northeastern Seoul; Gangnam, southern Seoul; and Mapo, northwestern Seoul.

While the two governments fight over the issue, the chairman’s seat on the Sudokwon Landfill Corporation, the operator of the waste site, has been remained empty since late December.

Six candidates were interviewed at the corporation Monday, and three will have final interviews at the Ministry of Environment, which will select the chairman. People in Incheon worry that the ministry might select a person who has a positive stance about keeping the landfill going.


By Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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