Seoul to take first steps to prove tap water safety

Officials in the South Korean capital Seoul have announced that they are to monitor the state of the city’s tap water in order to refute ceaseless allegations that it is not safe.

For the past eight years, a group of water experts and opposition politicians, led by Professor Kim Sang-jong of Seoul National University have been alleging that Seoul’s water is contaminated with viruses such as those that cause hepatitis A, pinkeye, diarrhoea and respiratory problems, reports The Korea Herald. The most recent allegations have arisen due to research carried out by Sang-jong into water quality at 13 locations, five of which were found to contain viruses, leading the Professor to believe that over 35% of the city’s water could be contaminated. He also criticises the water testing methods carried out by the city, stating that the authorities should not depend on one type of test alone.

However, the city authorities refute the research findings, stating that as the city’s drinking water is treated with chlorine, it is not possible for there to be viruses present. “By saying that chlorine-purified water can still contain viruses, Professor Kim is negating a widely-held scientific truth,” said Park Soo-hwan, Director of the city’s Water Technology Research Institute.

The city’s new programme will include the inspection of all faucets in all buildings in downtown Seoul, tagging each one, so that if contamination is found, the source can be identified. The authorities intend to inspect tap water from 6,600 different areas by the end of the year, and one million by 2006, and the city authorities intend to tighten regulations regarding the management of water pipelines and tanks. “We are taking this measure to build public trust in Seoul’s tap water,” a spokesman for City Hall told The Korea Herald.

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