South Korean Cultural Ecology - 1905 to 1990
E. Water Pollution
Water pollution has also reached critical levels. The Han River has been especially damaged by effluents, as is the Nakdong River. Untreated domestic sewage is the main cause. Seoul has piped the major intakes 30 kilometers upstream to secure suitable water for city use. The Han River was considerable worse than the Hudson River in New York. In August of 1989 government investigators found that the water at ten purification plants contained heavy metals such as iron, manganese, and cadmium at up to twice the official tolerance levels. Neutral detergents were detected at seven to twenty times the official tolerance level at the Pusan and Puyo areas. Ammoniacal nitrogen generated by human and animal wastes was discovered at nearly ten times the tolerance level in Seoul, and bacteria at five times the tolerance level was found in nine out of the forty-six water-purification facilities in the country.
Industry is the major problem. 19% of more than 25,600 factories equipped with wastewater treatment facilities were either not using them or using them improperly. Government estimates to make the nation's water fit to drink would take $3.3 billion to build 84 sewage treatment plants by 1996, and another $2 billion to replace pipes and upgrade 19% of the existing nation's water-treatment plants. The chaebols are building six additional integrated petrochemical complexes between 1991 and 1993. DuPont was given the go-ahead to build a titanium dioxide plant in Korea after being turned down by Taiwan on environmental grounds. Large industrial complexes are discharging their effluents directly into the ocean. Masan Bay and Inchon Harbor have been closed to commercial fishing due to pollution.On to Page 31 Back to Page 29 Back to Outline Page Back to South Korean Choice Page