In the small South Korean city of Gumi, the authorities’ slow response to a toxic gas leakage disaster has prompted angry reactions from citizens.
On September 27, 2012, a chemical factory containing eight tons of toxic acid, exploded and resulted in a massive gas spill, creating a serious health hazard for thousands of villagers. South Korean authorities only began evacuating villagers on October 6, some ten days after the event.
The gas leaked from the plant explosion is hydrochloric acid, a highly toxic chemical that can damage the lungs, bones and the nervous system. The official number of affected villagers tops 600 people, but several thousand more are believed to have been exposed to fallout from the leakage and are in need of immediate treatment.
It was the villagers who begged the government for evacuation; the affected area was not designated as ‘special disaster zone’ until the third day of the gas spill.