Title: Lessons from three groundwater disputes in Korea: lack of comprehensive and integrated investigation

Authors: Jin-Yong Lee

Addresses: Department of Geology, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon 24341, South Korea

Abstract: Recently three groundwater environmental disputes have drawn a nationwide public attention because they are related to high incidences of cancers in rural areas or land subsidence in the heart of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The first two occurred in rural areas and strikingly high rates of residents have suffered from various cancers. Baseline investigations inferred that the causes of massive cancer occurrence are drinking groundwater contaminated with radon and chlorinated solvents, respectively. The successive land subsidences in the capital were attributed to a nearby skyscraper and/or an underground rail construction. The detailed reviews on the occurrence and progress of the three incidents revealed some common problems. The officials in charge were incompetent and even hiding related environmental data and documents to avoid their responsibility. Furthermore, the environmental survey to examine the possible causes was limited, not comprehensive, thus failed to satisfy the complaints of related stakeholders. During the disputes for the causes, the affected peoples were left without active and appropriate measures. The government should earn peoples' confidence by tackling these problems.

Keywords: groundwater pollution; water pollution; cancer risk; radon; chlorinated solvents; land subsidence; South Korea; groundwater disputes; environmental disputes; rural areas; skyscraper construction; underground railway construction.

DOI: 10.1504/IJW.2017.081111

International Journal of Water, 2017 Vol.11 No.1, pp.59 - 72

Received: 26 May 2015
Accepted: 25 Sep 2015

Published online: 23 Dec 2016 *

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