In a bid to protect public health and the environment from toxic asbestos, which can cause serious illnesses such as malignant cancer or fibrosis, Seoul City unveiled specific measures to comprehensively dispose of asbestos waste. The new measures were an upgraded version of the “Five-Point Comprehensive Measures on Asbestos,” which was announced by the city in October 2009 to systematically dispose of asbestos-containing materials in old buildings to be demolished at reconstruction sites. Adding to the 2009 countermeasures, Seoul City decided to carry out the “Assessment of Environmental Effects of Asbestos” from this year. The assessment calls for regulators to review an asbestos abatement project at a reconstruction site before the asbestos abatement project is actually conducted. In addition, Seoul City plans to remove asbestos in all subway stations of Seoul Metro by 2014. Separately, the city formed a group of overseers consisted of residents, parents and environmental activists to allow them to oversee asbestos abatement projects at 24 reconstruction sites.
Fifty percent-plus requirement set for asbestos environmental assessment of building space
Under the “2010 Seoul City Comprehensive Management Plan on Asbestos,” the city introduced the “Assessment of Environmental Effects of Asbestos” for new town development, redevelopment and reconstruction projects from this year. The plan calls for builders engaging in those projects to submit to the assessment before they demolish old buildings to build new ones. As part of the assessment process, the city plans to conduct a survey on the asbestos content in at least 50 percent of any building space to be demolished and draw out an “asbestos map.”
Asbestos survey, asbestos map on public, private buildings By 2011, Seoul City plans to complete surveys of asbestos content in 972 city-owned buildings. In addition, the city plans to expand survey coverage to private buildings from 2013. Also, the city will start work to make subway stations asbestos-free areas. Last year, Seoul Metro, the public corporation which runs subway lines in Seoul, prepared an asbestos map for all subway stations and bases. Based on the map, Seoul Metro plans to complete removing asbestos in all subway stations and bases by 2014.
Investigation team launched to secure ability to analyze asbestos
What’s more, the city formed an asbestos investigation team and installed a transmission electronic microscope at the Research Institute of Public Health & Environment, Seoul Metropolitan Government to secure a state-of-the art ability to analyze asbestos. Also, the city issued a decree on asbestos safety management and operates a web site for transparent disclosure of information. Besides, the city launched a countermeasure headquarters on asbestos management, headed by the Vice Mayor 1 for Administrative Affairs and senior officials at relevant bureaus.
“By systematically managing asbestos disposal at all reconstruction sites in Seoul City, the city aims to ensure citizens live in a cleaner Seoul,” said an official at Seoul City.