Incheon voices concerns over effects of landfills

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Incheon voices concerns over effects of landfills





The Seoul Metropolitan Government is scrambling to deal with household waste after Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok made it clear on Wednesday that landfills in Incheon would no longer accept any more refuse from Seoul and Gyeonggi after 2016.

Seoul and the Ministry of Environment, which own the landfills in Incheon, currently plan to bury waste from Incheon, Seoul and Gyeonggi until 2044 by establishing more landfills, though Yoo has insisted that it comes at the expense of Incheon residents. He added that he would not build additional landfills in the city.

Yoo argued that Incheon residents have been forced to endure dust and the stench of the landfill for past few decades. There are now 700,000 people living in nearby Cheongna International City and Geomdan New City to consider, he said, whereas when the first landfill was set up in 1989, the area was completely desolate.

He further suggested the issue should be discussed by a consultative body comprised of officials from Incheon, Seoul, Gyeonggi and the Ministry of Environment.

The Seoul government this week appeared willing to cooperate with Incheon to come up with solutions, acknowledging that the lack of a landfill could become a massive social problem. “I feel grateful and sorry at the same time for Incheon citizens for what they may have suffered because of these landfills,” Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said during a press briefing on Thursday. “However, it’s very difficult to come up with an alternative area for the landfill, and I welcome the [idea of a] consultative body because it is an urgent matter. I will talk to the authorities and leave all options open.”

On the sidelines, the Seoul government also announced a plan on Thursday to eliminate by 2017 household waste that is buried. It would like to reduce about 6.5 percent of the current 9,189 tons of daily household waste from Seoul. Currently, the city government recycles 65 percent, incinerates 27 percent and buries the other 8 percent.

The city said it plans to improve the performance capabilities of resource recovery facilities in Seoul to independently handle household refuse as much as possible. It aims to incinerate 150 tons of household waste per day and has agreed to use incinerating facilities in Yangju and Icheon, Gyeonggi.

The Seoul government is also slated to start building in 2017 a facility to recycle incineration ash.

The first landfill in Incheon was filled up in 2000 and then turned into a biological complex with a golf course, a swimming pool and horse-riding course, which were also used for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon this year. The second landfill is currently in use and is expected be filled up in 2016.

The first landfill in Incheon was established in 1989, when the landfill on Nanji Island in western Seoul was nearly filled largely due to the rapid industrialization of the 1980s. The Incheon Metropolitan Government was then compensated with a total of 52.3 billion won ($46.885 million) - 15 billion won from the Ministry of Environment and 37.3 from the Seoul government.
BY KIM BONG-MOON bongmoon@joongang.co.kr

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