Seoul and Incheon make progress on landfill issue

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Seoul and Incheon make progress on landfill issue

Seoul and Incheon moved a step closer to solving a disagreement over whether Seoul should extend the period for using the landfill in Incheon, with both sides signing an agreement Friday.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has been scrambling for alternatives to deal with its household waste after Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok made it clear in December that the landfill in Incheon would no longer accept any more refuse from Seoul and Gyeonggi after 2016, arguing that it came at the expense of his residents.

Officials from the Ministry of Environment, Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi on Friday accepted the preemptive measures that Incheon proposed in December, which would see Seoul transferring its stake in the landfill to Incheon in exchange for extending the usage period.

Currently, Seoul and Incheon each hold a stake in the landfill, with 71.3 percent and 28.7 percent, respectively.

The Ministry of Environment would also allow the Landfill Site Management Corporation to move in to Incheon.

In addition, Seoul agreed to connect Seoul Metro line No. 7 and Incheon Metro line No. 1 for the convenience of those living near the landfill. Seoul sees the agreement as being a first step before the extension of the use period, depending on the interpretation, said an official in the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Waste Disposal Department, as the pact mainly outlines the economic benefits for Incheon in respect to landfill issues.

However, Incheon so far has remained cautious.

“Many people, including the Seoul side, are saying that we’ve almost come to an agreement on extending the landfill use period, which is not really true,” said an official from the Resource Recirculation Department of Incheon Metropolitan City. “We found common ground, but have to see more.”

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon considered the issue critical upon his reelection last year and at the time arranged a meeting with former Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil, in which the two discussed launching a task force to find a common solution.

However, the proposal faced strong opposition from Incheon residents.

“As Seoul mayor, I apologize to Incheon’s residents, who have been inconvenienced by the landfill,” Park said at a press conference in December. “However, we do not have any other alternatives but to extend the period for waste disposal for the 24 million people in the metropolitan area.”

Seoul had previously held off on offering to transfer its share of the landfill to Incheon, though eventually relented to persuade Incheon to come to the negotiating table.

BY PARK YUNA [ypc3c@joongang.co.kr]




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