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Korea to build Venetian-style floodgates

Korea plans to set up high-tech facilities to stave off flooding at the country’s seaports, including flap gates similar to those being built in Italy’s Venice, the government said Monday.

The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs unveiled a package of measures to minimize the impact of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, typhoons and tidal waves, which are increasingly frequent and severe amid climate change.

Under the plan, the ministry will spend nearly 1.2 trillion won ($1.13 billion) by 2030 to establish mobile floodgates, protective walls or other systems at 22 harbors depending on the region’s geographical features. Another 621 billion won was allocated for reinforcing existing facilities and their maintenance.

According to the ministry, combined damage to seawalls caused by typhoons neared 5.5 billion won in the 2000s, up more than 11-fold in two decades. Residents and businesses have also suffered human and economic losses.

The Venetian-style sluices will be installed at Mokpo and Masan in the country’s south. When not in use, the iron gates will sit on the seabed. When a high tide is forecast, they will be raised and shut off the sea from the shore, the ministry said.

Italy initiated the project in 2003 aiming to protect the lagoon city from rising sea levels but it has been dogged by political feuding, environmental jitters and exorbitant construction and maintenance costs.

But ministry officials said the floodgates here “will not cause such troubles” as they plan to use materials that cause no environmental harm, and maintenance costs will not exceed the levels of existing disaster-prevention facilities.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)
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