The Korea Electric Power Corp. is set to resume its stalled power-line project in Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province, after next week’s Chuseok holidays despite continued resistance from some residents.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won visited the county saying that resumption was an “unavoidable choice” and announced a revised 18.5 billion won ($17 million) compensation plan. The compensation package also includes plans to build the country’s largest solar power generation facility in the region.
The outlook for the troubled project, however, remains uncertain with residents opposing the project remaining unmoved.
|Miryang residents protest Wednesday during Prime Minister Chung Hong-won’s visit. (Yonhap News)|
They say they do not want compensation but for the project to be cancelled or the transmission lines buried underground, citing health risks from electromagnetic waves.
Under the new compensation plans, KEPCO will offer 400 million won each to the 1,800 households in the vicinity of the planned towers for the 765-kilovolt transmission line. A special task force of 21, consisting of KEPCO officials and Miryang residents in favor of the plan, was in charge of drawing up the plans.
Faced with the additional delays, KEPCO is hoping for regulations concerning compensation to be revised to enable the 400 million won payments to individual households, but it is seen as likely that the area’s elders, mostly in their 70s or 80s, will continue to resist the project.
The area has been a political and environmental battleground since 2005, when the power corporation decided to build an ultra-high-voltage transmission line that connects Ulsan’s Shin-Kori 3 nuclear power plant and its substation in Changnyeong. Except for Miryang, all four localities ― Ulju, Gijang, Changnyeong counties and Yangsan City ― agreed to building 161 towers for the 90.2-kilometer power line. That left construction sites of the planned 52 towers in Miryang as barren wasteland.
Miryang residents have taken to extreme action to stop the construction.
Last year, Lee Chi-woo, 74, burned himself to death after the power corporation hired workers to force the construction through. Elderly women who have been living in container boxes to guard the site even took off their clothes this year during a clash with police.
The project was initially scheduled for completion in 2010, but has repeatedly stopped and resumed. The government began to increase pressure for its completion after three nuclear power plants were suspended due to substandard parts this year. Currently, six of 23 reactors in the country are offline.
Nuclear power plants account for about 30 percent of the country’s total electricity output. The Shin-Kori 3 is expected to have a capacity of 1.4 gigawatts, according to officials.
The power corporation projects peak power consumption in the winter will record more than 81,000 megawatts, only 5,000 megawatts below the total capacity.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org