South Korea to measure electromagnetic wave levels near controversial Thaad site

South Korean protesters and Seongju-gun residents shout slogans and held banners reading 'No THAAD' during a rally against the South Korean and US Government's defense policy in front of the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul, on July 31, 2017.
South Korean protesters and Seongju-gun residents shout slogans and held banners reading 'No THAAD' during a rally against the South Korean and US Government's defense policy in front of the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul, on July 31, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL - The Defence Ministry of South Korea plans to measure the levels of electromagnetic wave and noise near the site where a controversial anti-missile system is deployed.

The study will take place on Aug 10, said the ministry on Friday (Aug 4), according to Xinhua news agency.

The US Thaad (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) system is designed to protect South Korea against potential threats from North Korea.

Residents living near the site had voiced their unhappiness about the government's decision on Thaad, calling for its operations to be suspended. They said the system poses health and environmental hazards.

A Thaad battery is composed of six launchers, 48 interceptors, the AN/TPY-2 radar and the fire and control unit. The radar is known to emit super microwaves, detrimental to human body and environment, Xinhua reported.

The Defence Ministry has stressed that the Thaad's X-band radar emits only a small level of electromagnetic wave.

The radar emissions of Korean Navy's AEGIS-class destroyer is 62 times stronger than that of the Thaad, said the ministry, according to a JoongAng Daily report on Tuesday.

"And yet, 250 sailors are working on the ship," said Defence Minister Song Young Moo, as quoted by JoongAng Daily. "I believe the electromagnetic waves from the Thaad radar are not a serious issue."

The ministry said the measurement of electromagnetic wave and noise next week will be conducted with the Environment Ministry and experts.

The measurement is part of the verification processes for the small-scale environmental impact assessment on the site that has been launched since December 2016 under the government of ousted president Park Geun Hye.

The audit covers 328,799 sq m of land. The total area of the site, a former golf course in Seongju county in North Gyeongsang province, is 1.48 million sq m, according Xinhua.

Yonhap news agency reported last week that the government will conduct a new year-long environmental impact assessment on the site. The plan was announced by the Defence Ministry last Friday.

The government will make a final decision on whether to install the Thaad system at the site after the completion of the assessment, Xinhua reported.