Yeongheung power station is a 3,340 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Yeongheung Island, South Korea. A 1,740 MW expansion is planned for completion in 2014. The plant is owned by two Korean power companies.
When the construction plan for the coal plant was declared for the first time in the 1990s, there arose a fierce environmental movement led by environmentalists with the active participation of local residents. A bridge was also constructed to facilitate faster transportation. After the construction of landfast bridge (Yeongheung Bridge) as well as the coal plant, it is true that the island is prone to be developed as a tourist resort. It means that the island has lost its own identity as a beautiful island with natural resources. This kind of development hurts and destroys the local people’s feeling. A second consequent change in the rural landscape is an increase in the real estate business; it is related to the increasing price of land due to the location of the plant and the construction of Yeongheung Bridge.
The most important role that the Yeongheung coal plant plays is to supply stable electric power to the National Capital regions, including parts of Seoul. However, this plant has been surrounded by severe environmental debates from its planning stages. It was 1995 when environmental concerns of the plant were recognized. An open forum for the impact assessment of the coal plant was held in 1995 and aroused public opinion against the coal plant construction by revealing the environmental impacts of air and ocean pollution.
Environmental issues raised by the forum came to have an effect on local residents, who possessed hardly any formal knowledge about the environment. Local residents, with the support and knowledge of an environmentalist group, established committee, and local residents began to publicly protest in 1996.
Public protests reached a peak in 1997 and aggravated the relations between local residents and the coal company. Dozens of local residents were arrested for illegal (according to the police) demonstrations during 1996 and 1997.
Apart from the question of the pollution’s seriousness, the residents revealed their complaints against three pollution sources: (1) dust; (2) noise pollution of power transmission towers; and (3) destruction of tidelands.