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Greenpeace vows to fight nuclear power in Korea

Greenpeace, one of the world’s most influential environmental civic groups, has stood up against nuclear power plant construction and operation in Korea.

Warning that nuclear energy will impose even greater economic, environmental and ethical burdens on citizens, the group vowed to actively engage itself in a variety of activities in the country, where it is scheduled to open a branch this month.

Mario Damato, Greenpeace executive director of East Asia, decried nuke plant operation, which the administration promotes to be the cleanest and safest energy resource.
 
“Take Fukushima for example. Look at the on-going tragedy surrounding Chernobyl. Accidents can take place no matter how hard humans try,” he said. Greenpeace held a press conference Tuesday revealing the devastation which swept over Fukushima and its surrounding areas, where a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the atomic power plant and the leaked materials from nuclear reactors have contaminated the soil and atmosphere.

“Germany took a brave move with its decision to shut all the nuclear power plants in the near future. It reflects what other parts of the world have come to think of nuclear,” he added.
Citizens tour “Rainbow Warrior,” the world’s first Greenpeace environmental campaign ship that docked at Incheon Port on Saturday to mark the opening of the group’s first Seoul office. (Greenpeace)
Citizens tour “Rainbow Warrior,” the world’s first Greenpeace environmental campaign ship that docked at Incheon Port on Saturday to mark the opening of the group’s first Seoul office. (Greenpeace)

Greenpeace is instead pushing “renewable energy” such as wind power, which is subject to some heated debates over its claimed environmental-friendliness and economic efficiency.

“It is all about the selection of location. The wind turbines could be installed in the middle of the sea waters to minimize their effect on the surrounding eco system. It is costly at the beginning stage but the maintenance is almost free.

“On the other hand, discarding nuke wastes costs a fortune. Adding the potential risk that always lurks around the nuclear plants, no one could say nuclear is the answer for the next generation’s resources,” Damato said.

Damato and his colleagues are now in the process of establishing a regional office in Seoul, which will be the fourth office in Asia following Hong Kong, Beijing and Taipei.

“Korea is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. And its capital, Seoul, houses numerous multinational corporations. Our every move could bring a huge publicity effect,” Damato said.

Four Korean staff members will be recruited and will work on campaigns against nuclear energy and illegal fishing. It will also speak about the ultra-sensitive issue regarding Agent Orange, which the U.S. military allegedly dumped at several locations in the country.

Greenpeace has managed to gain respect from both civilians and the authorities by refusing donations from businessmen as well as the government. In Korea, the group will join hands with many other environment activists while keeping its distance from others.

“Independence, that’s what we are all about,” Damato said. “We won’t talk about something we do not know, but we won’t keep silent on something we know and feel right to speak up about,” he added.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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