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South Korea: thyroid cancer patients say no to nuclear power plants

Thyroid cancer patients say no to nuclear power plants http://m.koreatimes.co.kr/phone/news/view.jsp?req_newsidx=237600 음성듣기By Kim Se-jeong, 12 Oct 17, 

More than 600 thyroid cancer patients living near nuclear power plants in the country came together earlier this week, calling on the government to keep its construction of new nuclear power plants halted.

They also asked the government to help them cope with their ordeals. Their calls came while the public debate on the construction of two Shin-Kori reactors is at its peak.

“Nuclear power plants are government projects,” a group of thyroid cancer patients and activists said in a press conference at the National Assembly, Wednesday. “We have contributed to the national growth by enduring many side effects of nuclear power plants. Now that we’re sick, we’re left to fight for survival alone.”

There are two ongoing lawsuits raised by the thyroid patients against Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., the operator of the nuclear power plants, and Wednesday’s calls also meant to push the courts which are expected to deliver verdicts within this year.

One was filed in 2012 by a family of three ― a father, mother and son suffering colorectal cancer, thyroid cancer and a developmental disability, respectively. The lower court ruled partially in favor of the family, stating thyroid cancer had been caused by exposure to radioactive iodine from the power plant. The case is currently being reviewed by an appeals court.

The other lawsuit was filed in 2015 by 618 thyroid patients against the operator, demanding recognition and compensation. The patients are awaiting a verdict. What they want from the government are the following. For long-term action, they want no nuclear power plants so there will be no more such patients in Korea,” said Choi Soo-young, a Korean Federation for Environmental Movement activist. “For a short-term solution, they want to relocate themselves and want the government to pay for it.”

Exposure to radioactive iodine is one of the main causes of thyroid cancer.

A couple of epidemiological surveys in Korea have also found a high number of thyroid cancer patients in the areas close to nuclear power plants in Korea. Yet, the KHNP disputed this, saying the high number was a result of overtreatment.

Korea’s 24 nuclear power plants generate almost 30 percent of the nation’s electricity. Eighteen of them are concentrated in the southeastern region of Busan, Ulsan and Gyeongju.

“We want our voices to be heard by the group of citizens who are debating the new nuclear power plant construction. No more new nuclear power plants should be allowed,” Choi said. The group of almost 500 citizens is starting the three-day major debate on Friday in the final phase of the three-month-long debate. A decision on whether to resume the construction of the Shin-Kori reactors is expected on Oct. 20.

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October 14, 2017 - Posted by | health, politics, South Korea

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