Seoul says bugs in sinks didn't come from tap water
Despite continued reports of larva-like organisms found in sinks and bathrooms, Seoul water authorities said Wednesday none of them are coming from the tap water. But they announced a team of experts will investigate.
The Seoul Waterworks Authority said it received 12 complaints Monday and Tuesday of larva-like organisms found in people’s homes and even office buildings, but confirmed after running tests that none of them were results of larvae in the tap water, as have been found in parts of Incheon.
The first report of a one-centimeter larva-like organism in the shower was made by a resident of an apartment in Jung District in central Seoul late Sunday. Since then, more complaints have filed in, including a discovery of a larva-like creature in the restroom sink of a corporate building in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul on Monday.
Officials say the Seoul larvae sightings are being linked to external factors such as water storage tanks, drains and sewers rather than contamination of the tap water.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Wednesday that it will launch a joint investigation team made up of officials and non-government experts to look into the water purification process in the capital and try to solve the mystery of larva-like organisms being found in bathrooms and kitchen sinks.
The joint team will investigate five out of six purification facilities operated by the Seoul city government that distribute water to the capital and check if they are being managed properly. Inspection of the sixth treatment plant in Seoul, the Ttukdo Arisu Water Purification Center, was completed on Monday and the facility was confirmed clear of bugs. This center supplies water to districts in central, western and northern Seoul including Jongno, Jung, Yongsan and Mapo.
The 12-person team will be comprised of six outside experts and six officials including Seoul Waterworks Authority researchers.
Since July 9, Incheon residents have complained of worm-like creatures in their tap water, which has led to a series of similar discoveries in different cities across the nation including Busan, Cheongju, Ulsan and different parts of Gyeonggi.
The Incheon city government said that as of Wednesday it received a total of 814 complaints related to bugs in the water, of which 211 were confirmed as actually being larvae. The bulk of those, or 198 cases, were in Incheon’s Seo District, but a few were in Bupyeong District and on Yeongjong Island.
Busan's city government received 48 complaints of larvae-like organisms between July 14 and 21, of which 13 were confirmed.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun ordered the Environment Ministry on Monday to speedily investigate the cause of larvae in tap water and prevent its spread.
The Ministry of Environment announced Tuesday that larva-like organisms have been found at seven water treatment plants nationwide after an inspection of 49 water treatment plants with activated carbon filters last week. This included two plants in Gongchon and Bupyeong found to have midge larvae that were suspected of having entered the tap water being distributed to parts of Incheon, including Seo District.
Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae in a press conference Wednesday at the Yonsei Severance Foundation building in central Seoul addressed the recent controversy over bugs in tap water saying he was disappointed that the quality of water was not meeting people’s expectations.
“The issue of bugs in the tap water has been a source of inconvenience and concern to the people and as the relevant minister, my heart is heavy and I feel a great sense of responsibility,” said Cho. “In a situation where residents have found in their water bugs originating from some water treatment plants, water quality standards may seem subpar in the eyes of the people, regardless of management regulations.”
He continued, “We need to not just satisfy water quality standards but manage it to a standard in which the people can feel at ease.”
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]