South Korea: After a medical checkup, Hwang, 67, a resident of Gyeongju, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have immediate surgery to remove the tumor. Several other people from her village, which is the closest human settlement to the Wolseong nuclear power plant, were also diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Hwang is among an increasing number of South Koreans who live near the country’s four nuclear power plants and are joining civil suits against the operator of the plants, demanding compensation for cancer and other adverse health effects.
The citizen’s legal actions were prompted by a landmark ruling by the Busan [where the Kori Nuclear Plant is located] district court October 2014, which ordered Korea Electric Power Corp., the government-owned operator of the nuclear plants, to pay 15 million won (1.68 million yen, or $13,500) in damages to a thyroid cancer patient. The number of plaintiffs seeking compensation from KEPCO for health damages incurred by radioactive emissions from the plants has now swelled to more than 2,500. In demanding compensation from KEPCO, she argues that radioactive emissions from the Wolseong nuclear power plant in Gyeongju, with its five reactors, have caused her thyroid cancer.
Lawyer Kim Yeong-hui, who has encouraged residents living near nuclear plants to join the litigation, said that epidemiological surveys in South Korea have shown that residents living 5 to 30 km from nuclear power plants have 1.8 times a higher incidence of thyroid cancer than people from other areas.
Excerpt from AKIRA NAKANO, More residents joining lawsuits seeking damages from South Korean nuclear plants, Asahi Shimbum, July 15, 2015