|2009.10.21 15:22||2009.10.21 15:22 | Green Society|
- Urging the USAF to stop the construction of new runaway without air pollution control measures and environmental impact assessment -
U.S. Air Force Korea is now enforcing the construction of its second runaway without conducting a proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Despite concerns over intensive aircraft noise, they have been pushing ahead with the construction with little regard for the environmental destruction and damage the local residents have to suffer. The construction even violates the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (EIAA).
The runaway, measuring 2,745 meter in length and 45 meter in width, is now under construction at Osan U.S. Air Base(K-55), located in Seotan-myeon, Pyeongtaek-si, Kyunggi-Do. A report made by the 7th Air Force Command shows that the site of the new runaway is about 200 meters north of the existing one and will allow various combat aircraft and big transport planes to take off and land.
Design, discussion and promotion of the construction plan began in 2006. In the meantime, no participants including local residents, officials for Pyeongtaek-si and the Ministry of Environment (MoE) have been made aware of the plans. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) and U.S. Air Force Korea have secretly pushed ahead with plans for another runaway on the already noise-ridden site.
The bottom line is that the construction project, which should be subject to an EIA, was planned and has been carried out behind closed doors without observing proper procedures. South Korea’s EIAA stipulates that in the case of military air bases, the construction of a runaway 500 meters in length must go through the EIA. Article 23 of the Military Facility Protection Law which applies to Republic of Korea Army’s military bases is also applicable to U.S. military bases in Korea. Therefore, the construction of the new runaway is subject to the EIA. The U.S. Air Force must closely investigate the expected environmental impact caused by the project and follow standard procedures such as collecting residents’ opinions and consulting with the MOE.
A local court has already ruled that it is against the law to construct military facilities without conducting an EIA. In June of 2006, the Supreme Court sided with the plaintiff, holding that “the defendant’s administrative measure was invalidated in that he violated the EIA Act by approving Baekgol Military Unit’s shooting range creation project without carrying out an EIA”. As a result, the project has been scrapped.
During the past 50 years, the local residents around the Osan Air Base have suffered with increasing levels of noise pollution. With no laws or systems preventing noise pollution, the damage from noise is on the rise. For those residents already suffering with this problem, the new runaway construction is just adding fuel to the fire.
U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) says that it always tries to be a good neighbor to the Korean people., However, it is hard for them to be a good neighbor when they show little regard for the environmental destruction and damage they may cause to the local residents and if they do not consult with central and local government in the course of project implementation.
In the United States the U.S Army conducts an investigative examination and has a consultation with local residents, state governments, and other relevant authorities on a regular basis so that it can minimize the damage to the natural environment and local residents. By doing so, the U.S. Army successfully complies with such laws as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Air Installations Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ), Installation Operational Noise Management Plan (IONMP), and Joint Land Use Study (JLUS).
If USFK earnestly wants to have a good relationship with Koreans, they must put a stop to the new runaway project which has so far been pushed ahead behind the scenes. Following this, they need to conduct a feasibility study for the project and start to consultation with residents, Pyeongtak-si, and the MOE.
GKU Green Society Department Min-hyeok Hwang l 016-775-8061 l email@example.com
Translated by Sung ChangKwon
Proofread by Simons Chloe Jane
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