|2008.12.24 09:36||2008.12.24 09:36 | Eco-system Conservation|
One year is already past.
It's already been a year since we rushed to the Western Coast to remove the oil on the rocks, warming our hands in a freezing weather. The residents in the Western Sea were encouraged by about 1.6 million volunteer workers. The volunteer workers who were seemingly helpless were a hope for the residents.
On December 7, 2007, about ten days ahead of the presidential election, the nation's worst oil spill has occurred. The presidential candidates from each political party have visited the accident sites. However, after the election, Lee Myung-Bak, who was elected, has paid a visit to the scene only once. In the case of the prime minister responsible for taking care of the accident, it is countable on one's fingers for him to convene a meeting to help restore the accident area. Meanwhile, three residents of oil-devastated areas in Taean, South Chungcheong Province have committed suicide. They were deprived of their grounds for living and in the depths of despair. According to the government survey, the full recovery of the marine ecological system would take twenty years and for years it would also difficult to cultivating oysters. Thanks to the emergency anti-disaster efforts, about twenty bathing resorts could open this year but tourists decreased by 80% compared to that of the same period last year.
The local residents have received only a daily wage of 38 to 54 dollars (50,000 to 70,000 won) by cleaning up the oil slick. A winter season is coming again amid fear of how big the upcoming damage will be. The residents know that the oil is harmful only by its disgusting smell; they have no choice but to avoid it. The only way to shun it is to leave their grounds of living. A number of data shows that there are serious problems with the health of the affected residents and soldiers who cleaned up oil. Moreover, the stress in children is reaching dangerous level. The SAMSUNG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, however, claims that it has no legal responsibility and continues to argue where the responsibility lies. It is fortunate that the court decided that the company was primarily responsible for the accident and it was fined 23,273 dollars (30 million won). But a trial is still under way after SAMSUNG HEAVY INDUSTRIES appealed the ruling.
It was pointed out that Korea is vulnerable to marine oil spill when the Sea Prince tanker spill case took place exactly 20 years ago, but the same kind of accidents causing innocent damage have been repeated. In the meantime, as more oil is imported, the passage of oil tankers off the sea increases. Once oil spill occurs, the damage is irrevocable. For the reason, a double hull is necessary. The introduction of the bill which forces the use of a double hull has been delayed by the lobbyism of oil refining companies but the use of a double hull will be mandatory in 2009. Even though the foreign examples showed that a proper relief equipment such as an organic mask was needed to carry out a relief effort, nothing has been changed in 20 years.
Now one year is already past.
The same problem lies ahead of us - the restoration of the ecosystem and compensation payments. It is not too late. A comprehensive management system is required from how to take actions in case of marine disaster to Samsung's oil spill case. A comprehensive disaster management system needs to be discussed in terms of calculating damage for reasonable compensation payments. It is not easy for the affected residents to individually demand the IOPC for compensation payments. As it is natural that those who pay money and those who receive money are hard to reach an agreement, the government has to do paper work and explain how to request payments for the residents. Also, the IOPC's compensation limit should be increased. The oil refining companies around the world have paid the insurance premium to the IOPC against any damage. As the damage caused by accidents has increased, a new agreement was reached between the IOPC and them, increasing compensation limit in 2003. Korea, however, did not join the agreement in that while there is lower possibility of accident, the burden on the refining companies increases. For the reason, the maximum amount of money that the affected residents can receive is only 232,738,557 300 billion won even though the estimated damage (at least 573.5 billion won) has already exceeded the maximum compensation limit.
A story of good conduct makes us warm in every cold winter. The same as last year, a lot of people's good conduct will reach the residents in Taean this year. Yet, it is not enough for the reason that the government remains silent. Before the end of the year, I expect the government to take actions. It is time to end the vicious circle caused by errors and unreasonableness.