Exactly 84.9 percent of Samcheok citizens are opposed to the central government’s plan for nuclear power plant construction in the region. The result of the local referendum held on Oct. 9 has a lot to do with their concerns over the safety of nuclear power that have risen since the Fukushima disaster.
A total of 28,867 voters participated in the voting and just 14.4 percent were in favor of the plan. The government had designated Geundeok-myeon, Samcheok City as the construction site in Oct. 2012 so as to build two 1,500 MW pressurized water nuclear reactors by 2030. However, the city is going to launch campaigns to cancel the project based on the voting results.
“We have confirmed the citizens’ stance and will fight the central government if necessary,” said Samcheok City Mayor Kim Yang-ho, adding, “The government will have to humbly accept the people’s opinion.” In response, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said that the designation was made at the request of the city and according to due process. “We feel sorry about the vote, which has no legal force at all with regard to the designation,” it continued. Still, it said that it would first complete the entire course of the project while trying to increase the awareness of the local public so that they can feel confident in the safety of the nuclear power generation project.
The tension between the two sides is heightening the possibility of the Buan Radioactive Waste Disposal Site incident repeating itself in Samcheok. Eleven years ago the government tried to build radioactive waste disposal facilities in Buan, North Jeolla Province, but had to face fierce opposition from the locals. A vote was held in the following year, in which 91.3 percent of the people were opposed to the central government. The plan was canceled in the end.