|2007.07.27 11:58||2007.07.27 11:58 | Eco-system Conservation|
- No environmental effect evaluation step included in the process of developing a large-scale industrial complex.
- New regulation allows BOD of 30mg/l on the clear water with BOD 0.1mg/l
Gaeseong Industrial Complex, a symbol of reconciliation between the two Koreas, is projected to seriously contaminate the ecosystem of the DMZ as well as Sacheon and Imjin River. After analyzing the ‘Gaeseong Industrial Complex environmental protection plan,’ (co-written by Korea Land Corporation and Hyundai Asan corp.) and ‘Gaeseong Industrial Complex waster water plan report,’ Green Korea United (GKU) concluded that the currently installed terminal wastewater treatment facilities are not capable of purifying indissoluble and other heavy metal contaminants.
In addition, the BOD standard that has been suggested as the discharge standard is set at least 30 times higher than the current Sacheon water quality, which would lead to unavoidablecontamination of the wetlands of the western part of the DMZ, Sacheon, Imjin River and the estuary of the Han River, the only region in South Korea where nature is preserved as it is due to the region’s inaccessibility rising from political situation. Gaeseong Industrial Complex, the two Koreas’ joint project, plans to develop heavy and chemical industrial and industrial engineering complex of area 65.7km2 and population half a million and the first construction stage of area 3.28km2 is in progress currently.
Large scale development planunder progress without environmental effect evaluation.
Because of thespecial status of the South and North Economic Cooperation in Korea, a large scale development is currently in progress without the pre-construction environmental examination and environmental effect evaluation procedures to minimize the project’s environmental impacts. This is due to the virtual absence of legislative and institutional regulations regarding the environmental impacts of the South-North Economic Cooperation in Korea.
Current terminal wastewater treatmentfacilities incapable of purifying wastewater’s heavy metal and indissoluble materials.
One of the most prominent aspects of Gaeseong Industrial Complex’s environmental problem is the degradation of water quality. A significant number of businesses involved such as fiber, dyeing and leather enterprises release excessive amount of contaminants. Wastewater from assembling metal products also contain toxic materials such as heavy metal and cyanogens. Although the first stage of Gaeseong Industrial Complex development plan’s terminal wastewater treatment facilities are scheduled to begin purifying 15,000 ton of wastewater from July, the treatment plans for wastewater from dyeing factories, leather and metal gilding industries have been excluded, which shifts the responsibility of purifying the metallic and indissoluble material on occupant businesses, as the Korea regulation states.
Nevertheless, it is not only difficult for incoming business enterprises that come to Gaeseong Industrial Complex for inexpensive production costs to spend enough funds for adequate treatment equipments, but the probability of their supplying funds for huge costs of transportation for chemicals released during the entire purifying process is also low. Thus, there is a high probability that metallic and indissoluble materials will be released after simple dilution, instead of being purified thoroughly.
Contamination of Sacheon Rive due to the wastewater treatment plant’s discharge quality and discharge quantity are self-evident.
The core problem of wastewater discharge lies on the quality standards of the discharged water and the quantity of the discharged water. Before the construction of the industrial complex, the water quality of Sacheon River where all the discharged water flow into was between BOD 0.1~1.0mg/l, which has earned it the prime I a class under South Korea’s stream water quality standard.
However, the new wastewater treatment facilities’ discharge water quality standard that incoming businesses in charge of maintaining environmental quality proposed and the two Koreas agreed upon allows BOD of up to 30mg/l. Allowing discharge of 30mg/l of wastewater will lead to 30~300times of BOD contamination on pure Sacheon River. In addition, although the measured flux of Sacheon River, which is the only stream where wastewater can be discharged, is 2.3m3/sec, the inflowing discharge quantity from the wastewater treatment plant from the first stage of Gaeseong Industrial Complex is 0.35m3/sec, which constitutes 15% of Sacheon River’s total discharge quantity.
Because of such large amount and high concentration of discharged water, even the first stage of the development of Gaeseong Industrial Complex will have a serious impact on the streams, and the validity of the project regarding the entire 65.7km2 of Industrial Complex will need to be reexamined.
Damage done to the wetlands of the DMZ due to the wastewater from Gaeseong Industrial Complex inevitable.
The water quality problem of Gaeseong Industrial Complex does not end with Sacheon River. The water system of Gaeseong Industrial Complex flows from Sambong Creek-Sacheon River-Imjin River- Han River estuary to Northern Kyunggi Bay. Regions around Sacheon River, which has been free from human interference for 54 years, is an international ecological treasure house which penetrates the DMZ’s western wetlands. In addition, Imjin River and Han River are water sources indispensable to Kyunggi Province and north-western regions of the Great Seoul Area. The heart of the problem lies at the fact that Sacheon River is the only stream that receives Gaeseong Industrial Complex’s discharged wastewater.
Thus, when pollutants are released from Gaeseong Industrial Complex, contamination of all water systems from Sacheon River, Imjin River through to northern Kyunggi Bay is inevitable. This means destruction of ecological systems in the western wetlands of the DMZ and will also influence the fishing industry around Kanghwa Island area. The seriousness of the problem arises from the fact that once polluted, the recovery of the DMZ, Imjin River and the joint waters of the northern Kyunggi bay is impossible due to the anti-personnel mine problems and political sensitivity.
The government’s ambiguous stance towards the DMZ.
Conservation of the DMZ is in international interest, as the DMZ is the only wetlands in the world’s temperate region that developed for half a century free from human interference. Former President Daejoong Kim and President Roh also valued the DMZ’s unique and rich ecosystem and suggested a special kind of conservation policies to the Ministry of Environment. The Ministry has already declared the DMZ as ‘natural reservation area’ under the Natural Environment Conservation Act and Kangwon Province and Kyunggi Province are already publicizing and commercializing the DMZ area.
Nevertheless, closer examination of the actual conservation activities around the DMZ and the Civilian Passage Restriction Line reveals that although the DMZ ‘s western wetlands of international worth is facing a threat of destruction, Ministry of Environment, which holds the primary responsibility and Ministry of National Unification, which is leading the conservation projects, have remained indifferent towards the situation. Neglecting these current pollution problems has high potential of inciting further social controversy in the future and this will have a negative influence on the the South and North Cooperation.
Gaeseong Industrial Complex should prioritize ecological conservation of the DMZ and the Korean peninsula.
-Gaeseong Industrial Complex currently uses the emission allowance standards of the environmental protection plan that enterprise partners Hyundai Asan corp. and Korea Land Corporation drafted and the two Koreas agreed upon. Under the abnormal operating system where the environmental overseer accepts the proposed standards of the business enterprises that should be the subjects of environmental regulations, the conservational value of the DMZ is not being considered at all. In order to conserve the DMZ and minimize environmental pollution, GKU sees following implantation as being necessary:
- Development of strict standards for the water quality of the discharged water from the terminal wastewater treatment facilities.
- Governmental aid for the operating and maintenance costs of the purifying processes and the smooth operation of wastewater treatment facilities
- Execution of environmental effect evaluation of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and Sacheon River region that exceeds or is equal to domestic standards.
- Development of a detailed plan for long term monitoring of the contaminant releases from the incoming businesses.
In the long term, the government and business enterprises should block environmental degradation arising from economic developments that disregard the environmental impacts and minimize the negative environmental degradation in North Korea. In conclusion, the government should adopt policies to conserve North Korea’s environment and to guarantee sustainable development of the two Koreas.
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