Fluoride Action Network

Gumi Designated as Gas Leak Disaster Zone

Source: Arirang News | October 9th, 2012 | By Yoo Li-an
Location: South Korea
Industry type: Chemical Industry

A blast at the factory of chemical maker Hube Global on September 27th killed five people and led to the leakage of EIGHT tons of hydrofluoric acid.

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation but police believe it might have happened while acid was being transferred to a storage tank.

Hydrofluoric acid is extremely toxic and is lighter than air, meaning when it leaked into the air, it quickly traveled to the surrounding area where more than 3-thousand nearby residents had to be treated for complications, including respiratory and skin problems.

It’s been nearly two weeks since the incident and after mounting criticism for failing to effectively handle the disaster… the government has now responded.

It sent an inspection team to the site last Friday and designated the region a special disaster zone this Monday ….after a meeting of related vice ministers at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The designation as a disaster zone means the area will now be entitled to extra financial aid from the government for rehabilitation and tax cuts for affected residents.

Anger among local officials and residents has been palpable in the region since the accident.

They believed the central government was too slow to react to the leak and added that the new meaures announced Monday were badly needed.

Along with the human cost, early estimates are that the leak has caused economic losses of up to 18 million dollars.

Some 300 people from the affected area have also had to be evacuated to temporary shelters.