Since 1986 Korean's governments were looking for a nuclear storage site for low-medium radioactive waste. A site close to the historic city of Gyeongju (former capital in Silla dynasty) was eventually chosen.
The waste products that the Gyeongju facility will store are created in nuclear power plants, nuclear medical facilities and industrial facilities using nuclear materials in measurement and processing.
The South Korean government decided to capitalize on the expressed interest in development opportunities and set up a first of a kind referendum in 2005 that allowed various regions, apparently already preselected for having the required space and appropriate geology for a low level waste disposal facility, to hold a vote.
Between 4 regions, Gyeongju province "won".
Gyeongju will of course receive a special state subsidy of 300 Billion won ($288 Million). The disposal fees for the site are expected to be approximately 8.5 billion won ($8 Million) per year.
Local opposition and environmental movements campaigned against it. Nuclear waste storage is highly contentious in densely populated South Korea, as no one welcomes a nuclear waste dump in their backyard.
Also, "Opponents were concerned that the nuclear dump would hurt the reputation of the ancient capital," said Kim Ik-jung, a medical professor at the Dongguk University in Gyeongju (1).
The first waste came in 2010.
The City was offered considerable economic resources to accept the site ($270 million) with additional payments of per waste drum. The site is fully operational since 2013.