The South Korean government has selected a site for the construction of a radioactive waste repository on the island of Wido, situated in the county of Buan 14.4km from the mainland and near the province of North Jeolla. Wido has a population of 1468.

The South Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) announced the site selection on 24 July. A site selection committee, appointed by MOCIE, said that Wido was “considered to be suitable as a repository site through examination of its geological features, efficiency for investment, and proximity to infrastructure such as power and water.” On 27 July, Yoon Jin-sik, minister for commerce, industry and energy said that the residents of Wido would receive cash compensation of between 300 million to 500 million won ($275,000-450,000) per household. However, on 29 July, presidential spokesman Yoon Tai-young said that instead of offering monetary compensation, the government would be offering projects that will benefit the residents. President Roh Moo-hyun instructed that steps be taken to ensure the successful implementation of assistance projects in the area. Yoon said that the provision of cash to Wido’s residents would set an undesirable precedent.

Officials from relevant ministries will get together soon to discuss details of the promised assistance projects. The government has set up a committee consisting of 11 ministries to assist Buan county. Headed by Lee Young-tak, minister of government policy coordination, the committee will draw up and carry out plans to fulfil the government’s commitments to the area.

Buan county, which seeks to become a high-technology industrial cluster for proton accelerator devices by 2023, was the sole bidder to host the disposal facility. Construction of a low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste disposal facility is to start in October 2006 and is due to be completed by 2008, while a temporary storage facility for spent fuel will be built by 2016.