Restoration or Devastation?

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Science  26 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5973, pp. 1568-1570
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5973.1568

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Launched last November, the South Korean government's Four Major Rivers Restoration Project calls for building 16 dams, dredging 570 million cubic meters of sand and gravel to deepen nearly 700 kilometers of riverbed, renovating two estuarine barrages, and constructing bike trails, athletic fields, and parks along the waterways. At $19 billion, it is one of the costliest engineering projects in the country's history. And it is attracting fiery opposition, notably from the Professors' Organization for Movement Against Grand Korean Canal, a group of 2800 academics who accuse the government and supporters of twisting data and ignoring expert panel recommendations on issues such as water quality, flood control, rainfall patterns, and environmental impacts to justify a massive construction boondoggle. Both sides agree on one point: The project will dramatically transform the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Yeongsan rivers.

  • * With reporting by Ahn Mi-Young in Seoul.

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