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THAAD pose no environmental issues if set up away from towns: congresswoman

All News 18:23 July 20, 2016

SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) -- The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system will pose no environmental problems whatsoever if it is set up away from heavily-populated areas as in Guam, a U.S. Congresswoman representing the Pacific island territory told South Korean media.

Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam) made the remarks in a meeting with South Korea's Defense Ministry Joint Press Corps on Tuesday following their tour of an operational THAAD battery a day earlier.

The reporters were on the island to check how an actual THAAD battery is run and if it poses a health risk to people nearby and the environment.

She said there has never been a complaint raised about noise related to the THAAD system since it was brought onto the island in 2013. She said that as long as the battery is placed in an "isolated" area and not in the middle of a town there should be no problems.

The lawmaker also made clear that since the battery's deployment, there has been no signs that it has impacted the environment around it, and that the presence of THAAD has not hurt the island's tourism trade.

In the case of the THAAD battery in Guam, most residents gave full support to the presence of the anti-missile unit inside Andersen Air Force Base due to increasing and unpredictable threats coming from North Korea, she said.

North Korea's Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles can theoretically strike key military bases in Guam.

Seoul and Washington announced on July 8 that a THAAD battery will be positioned in South Korea to better counter growing North Korean missile and nuclear threats. Last week South Korea said it picked Seongju, 296 kilometers southeast of Seoul, as the site of the battery, because the county is sparsely populated and a South Korean surface-to-air missile battery already exists on the site where the THAAD will be stationed.

The THAAD system can intercept incoming missiles much higher up, which gives Seoul an added layer of protection compared to its current Patriot batteries that can only hit rockets closer to the ground.

Despite such an advantage, Seongju residents have staged protests calling for scrapping the plan because they fear the electromagnetic waves generated by the system's powerful radar can cause cancer and infertility and wreck havoc with crops. They have also expressed concerns over excess noise generated from the system's generators.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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