Govt. postpones environmental survey of THAAD site

By Kim Da-sol
  • Published : Aug 10, 2017 - 17:59
  • Updated : Aug 10, 2017 - 18:07
The South Korean government on Thursday postponed its plan to conduct a comprehensive environmental survey of a US anti-missile system deployed in Seongju, due to strong resistance from local residents and adverse weather conditions. 

The ministries of defense and environment had planned to measure the level of electromagnetic radiation and noise from the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province. Two THAAD launchers and a radar are currently operational at the site, which was previously a golf course. They were installed under the previous government. A representative of local residents was to observe the evaluation. 

A handout photo made available by the US Missile Defense Agency, 30 July 2017, showing a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor being launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska during a test of its system. (EPA-Yonhap)

“Considering on-site conditions, we decided to postpone the environmental survey,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement, calling for the cooperation of local residents and civic groups.

The THAAD radar is known to emit strong electromagnetic waves, which are detrimental to the human body and environment. Local residents have voiced concerns that the level of electromagnetic waves might be high if THAAD’s X-band radar is in full operation.

On Thursday morning, some 100 protesters demanding the suspension of the THAAD deployment staged a rally in an attempt to stop the environmental test. They accused the government’s planned examination of the site of being a way to facilitate and speed up the deployment process. Four more launchers, currently stored at a US base here, are awaiting deployment. 

Government officials and reporters sought to enter the THAAD site by using a military helicopter, as they were blocked by protesters who staged a rally in front of the only road to the site. However, the plan was aborted due to bad weather.

A “small-scale” environmental impact assessment, required for a site smaller than 330,000 square meters, has been under way since December.

In late July, the Defense Ministry said it would decide whether to roll out the four additional launchers required to complete one THAAD battery after the comprehensive environmental survey is conducted in accordance with a domestic law. It said the land size of the THAAD battery site is 700,000 square meters in total. 

By Kim Da-sol (