Nukewatch Quarterly Spring 2015
SEOUL—Three workers died December 26 as a result of inhaling toxic gas while building a new nuclear power facility in Ulsan, South Korea. A spokesperson for the utility in charge of the site, the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co., said the company suspected that a nitrogen leak was to blame for the deaths. Korea Hydro was on high alert at the time because of threats from computer hackers who had recently claimed they could disable the control systems of the company’s 23 reactors.
Earlier in December, a group of 1,336 plaintiffs, including 301 thyroid cancer patients and their families, filed a lawsuit against Korea Hydro. The cancer patients, who all live in close proximity to four of the nuclear giant’s facilities, are seeking $13,800 in compensation each, while their family members are asking for under $3,000 per person in damages. The plaintiffs decided to sue after a court ordered Korea Hydro to pay $13,800 to a single thyroid cancer patient, Park Geum-sun, in compensation for her suffering. The case is the first class-action lawsuit brought against the South Korean utility.
Ye Bu-hae, a 69-year-old rice farmer whose wife underwent thyroid cancer surgery, joined the suit along with 66 other thyroid cancer patients from his village of 3,000 people near the Kori nuclear facility. “Our action is for our next generation,” he told Reuters.
—Reuters, Dec. 16; AP, Dec. 26, 2014