Never again black rain

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Never again black rain

The Ministry of Environment released the results of its examination of last month’s black rain in Yeosu, South Jeolla, showing it contained pollutants from the waste of a nearby landfill for an industrial complex. A sample of black rain included a small quantity of black lead, calcite and oxide of magnesium, which also were found in a sample taken from the landfill 1.5 kilometers (0.9 mile) away.

The black rain is shocking in and of itself, since it showed mismanagement of industrial waste can lead to environmental calamity. We should acknowledge that a man-made disaster can happen anytime, anywhere.

Cases of environmental adversity caused by human error have occurred quite frequently of late. Last September, five persons died and more than 2,000 received medical treatment after hydrofluoric acid gas leaked in Gumi, North Gyeongsang. That should have been a wakeup call about the potential consequences of a lack of management oversight involving environmentally hazardous materials.

Nevertheless, this year we have seen similar leaks in Hwaseong in Gyeonggi, Dangjin in South Chungcheong and Gumi. Through these accidents, we realized how poorly prepared we are when it comes to preventing or dealing with environmental disasters. Furthermore, nuclear power plants were shut down due to substandard components with falsified test certificates. People working for the stations ignored the strict safety standards for nuclear power plants. We are appalled at the disregard that could cause an unimaginable environmental catastrophe.

The ministry announced that the black rain in Yeosu did not cause significant environmental damage. That is a great relief, if it is true. However, there is a lingering anxiety over the possibility of man-made environmental disaster. It is not too late to prepare effective manuals that would help to deal with disasters, and the people who are in charge - both in the public and private sectors - should be fully aware of the potentially dire results and rededicate themselves to preventing mistakes from happening.

The rainy season has begun, and the forecast for today predicts a heavy downpour. We hope everybody does their part to prevent contamination due to rain and looks all around carefully to make sure we are safe.

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