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Regional Environmental Project in Korea
Despite Korea's economic crisis, regional governments still plan to heavily invest in wastewater treatment plants and other environmental projects. Industry sources believe these projects have excellent prospects of being funded and completed, and large Korean construction and engineering companies are in fierce competition to win the awards. However, domestic companies' lack of sophisticated technology and experience in the areas of design, engineering and other technical services are impediments to Korea undertaking some wastewater treatment projects. Local companies are actively seeking joint venture partnerships with foreign firms with expertise and experience in related advanced technologies, or which have made investment in relevant research and development.

According to recent announcements from the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and leading construction
companies, Korea's regional governments are planning to invest 8.2 trillion Won ($5.5 billion at an exchange rate of 1500 Won/1USD) to build 216 additional wastewater treatment plants throughout the nation by 2005. For 1998, alone, regional governments' investment will be over 600 billion Won ($400 million at an exchange rate of 1500 Won/1USD). Interest among Korean companies in environment-related projects is especially high since local construction business this year is expected to slow considerably due to Korea's current economic turmoil. With particular emphasis on environmental policies by the nation's new administration, industry sources believe environmental projects have the green light to proceed and also offer great potential for a high return on investment.

Among Korean companies which seek foreign partners are Samsung Construction Co., Ltd. which recently developed a technology for sludge incineration which the Ministry of Construction and Technology ( MOCT )has approved. Samsung is actively promoting at present this technology which it claims to minimize generation of toxic heavy metal components and dioxin during the process of sludge incineration. Another Korean company of possible interest to a U.S. firm seeking a partner here is Keumho Construction. Keumho, working with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), invested 3 billion Won ($2 million at an exchange rate of 1500 Won/1USD) to develop a high-efficiency wastewater treatment process. The technology is currently being tested at the Kwangdong-Li sewage treatment plant in Kyungki Province. In expectation of an increase in the number of local incineration facilities in the near future, Daewoo Construction Co. Ltd. also has developed a new low-pollution solid waste treatment technology. The company already has reached a joint venture agreement with a Japanese firm, Chiyota, for environmental projects but is looking for a U.S. partner as well. Apart from the above-mentioned companies, Daelim Industries, LG Construction, Taeyoung Construction, and Samhwan Industries also are intensifying their efforts to position themselves in the environmental sector. These companies are currently traveling around the country to meet with regional governments, giving technical presentations explaining their future business plans, and also exploring the possibilities of government and private industry joint venture partnership.

Standards for water quality in Korea are based on eight specific water quality indicators: pH, BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand), COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand), SS (Suspended Solids), DO (Dissolved Oxygen), number of E-coli, Pb, Cr+6, PCB (Polychlorinated Biphenyls), and ABS (Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate). In 1996, new effluentstandards for total nitrogen and total phosphorus were applied to specific locations designated by the MOE, and the ROKG also will strengthen effluent standards for BOD, COD, and SS in the near future. As of 1996 there were 79 wastewater treatment plants throughout Korea which treat 53 percent of the entire wastewater discharged. According to MOE plans, this treatment rate will rise to 80 percent by 2005. Construction of wastewater treatment plants will be made parallel with installation projects of additional wastewater pipe lines which the ROKG also plans to increase in number.

Comment: CS Korea advises U.S. environmental firms interested in the Korean market to utilize the programs and services of the Commercial Service Korea/U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership (U.S.-AEP)/Korea to identify and research potential opportunities. The following contacts may be useful to U.S. companies in obtaining further information and other necessary assistance:

Mr. LEE Chi-Sun, Director
Rm 404, Leema Bldg., 146-1 Soosong-Dong,
Chongro-Ku, Seoul 110-140, Korea
Phone: 82-2-734-6558/737-5492
Fax: 82-2-734-6559

Mr. JUNG Jin-Sung, Director General
International Cooperation
Ministry of Environment (MOE)
1 Choongang-Dong, Kwacheon City,
Kyungki-Do, Korea
Phone: 82-2-504-9238
Fax: 82-2-504-9206

Mr. PARK Woon-Seo, Assistant Director General
Water Conservation Division
Ministry of Environment (MOE)
1 Choongang-Dong, Kwacheon City,
Kyungki-Do, Korea

Mr. KOH Byung-San, Chairman
Korea Wastewater Treatment Association
912-27, Bongchun Bon-Dong,
Kwanak-Ku, Seoul 151-069, Korea
Phone: 82-2-884-8730
Fax: 82-2-884-8731

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