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Environmental Reprieve

Saemangeum Project halted by courts?

Today, July 15th, a mid-level court made a historic ruling on a case brought by the leaders of South Korea`s environmental groups and local citizens: the Saemangeum project must stop, effective immediately!The court apparently ruled that water in the proposed huge reclamation reservoirs will be of too low quality for agricultural use - rendering the project`s whole reason for being illegitimate. Furthermore, they accepted that the cost required to clean the water would be far in excess of that claimed by the government.The decision is a historic one, as it offers a real chance to stop finally this most destructive of projects. Showing respect for historical precedents (e.g. the Shihwa reclamation project which was completed in 1994 but cannot be used for agriculture because of water pollution), the court`s decision shows a laudable independence on the part of the judiciary as well as the determination of the environmental movement in South Korea - especially admirable when South Korea`s short history as a democracy (a mere 15 years) is considered.The Ministry of Agriculture has already announced that it will appeal the ruling. International opposition needs to continue and strengthen to weaken the Ministry of Agriculture`s resolve, and to convince the government to take advantage of this historic ruling and abandon the project.

4th July 2014