Gyeongju nuclear waste site, South Korea


Since 1986 Korean's governments were looking for a nuclear storage site for low-medium radioactive waste. A site close to the historic city of Gyeongju (former capital in Silla dynasty) was eventually chosen.

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Basic Data
NameGyeongju nuclear waste site, South Korea
CountryRepublic of Korea
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear waste storage
Specific CommoditiesNuclear Waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsBy 2010 the first 1000 drums of waste were stored at the site . up to 100 000 drums will eventually be stored
Project Area (in hectares)210
Level of Investment (in USD)$290 million (see comments below)
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected PopulationApproximately 300 000
Start Date2003
End Date01/12/2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesKorean Nuclear Agency
Relevant government actorsThe Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MEST)

The Korean Atomic Energy Commission (KAEC) is the highest order policy-making body on nuclear matters.

South Korea's Prime Minister is the chairperson overseeing such matters[6].

As of 2009, all nuclear waste disposal falls under the authority of the Korean Radioactive Waste Management Company.
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersKorean Federation of Environmental Movements
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Referendum other local consultations
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Referendum of local population
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Like many EJ conflicts, mobilisation failed to alter course of government decision. Cooptation was one of the main factors, through high government investment in local affected area.

Local population was consulted through referendum but in return they were promised money for compensation.
Sources and Materials

Korean Herald:Nov. 3, 2005

Korean Times: Geongju to Host Nuclear Dumpsite Nov 2 2005

Radioactive Waste Management in Korea, Tae-Jin Park and Jong-Won Choi

Radioactive Waste Disposal Research Division, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI)

May, 2012, Hacettepe University
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Law in Action, Underground Nuclear Waste Disposal Facing Problems in South Korea
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Gyeongju, South Korea wins competitive referendum for waste storage facility
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Korea's First Nuclear Waste Facility Opens in Gyeongju
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Other Documents

View of the site Source:
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Other CommentsGovernment declared that it would inject $290 million into the local economy as compensation
Meta Information
ContributorLouis Lemkow
Last update03/05/2014