Soil contaminated near closed asbestos mines
By Kim Bo-eun
The Ministry of Environment has found that soil near three closed asbestos mines in South Chungcheong Province is contaminated with the cancer-causing material.
The ministry said Monday that asbestos was detected in 42 percent of the soil around the mines in Bibong, Yangsa and Sindeok. It called for soil cleanup at 1.12 percent of the probed areas.
The finding is based on a ministry survey on the three locations conducted last year. A similar study was also conducted in Songak, Dangjin County, in the province, where there was no asbestos mine but soil contaminated with the carcinogen was suspected.
Out of the 2,512 hectares investigated, 1,058, or 42.12 percent, are contaminated with asbestos. And 28.1 hectares, or 1.12 percent, are in need of a soil cleanup, with the density of asbestos detected exceeding 1 percent, according to the ministry.
“Although the area needing decontamination work is only 1.12 percent of the total area, it is necessary to take bolder measures to ensure the health of nearby residents and minimize harmful effects asbestos may have on the ecosystem,” a ministry official said.
Chrysotile asbestos, tremolite asbestos and actinolite asbestos were also found in areas surrounding the closed mines, and treomolite asbestos was also found in Songak.
In Sindeok, a 3.5 percent maximum density of tremolite asbestos was detected and in Bibong and Yangsa, a 1.5 percent density was recorded.
A ministry official said the MOE will initiate a health check-up for some 2,500 residents living near the closed asbestos mines and factories this year.
Starting in 2013, it will expand the check-up to include residents living in areas with possibilities of asbestos contamination.
“We will complete investigations into other closed asbestos mines across the nation by 2017 to verify soil contamination,” he said.