3.1. Bias of News
One important point in news analysis, especially for environmental issues, was the bias of the news and media where some media and news were extremely positive, while others were extremely negative. We also checked all the news in the Opinion sub-category in the Evaluation category, as shown in Table 6
Out of 689 Opinions, the government opinions were 41.4%; 58.6% were non-government opinions; 11.8% were neutral. The news in government opinion could also be classified into positive and negative responses such as “safe or no-problem”; “need a make-up” of disposal sites; and “problem”. The “make-up” means the fix of disposal sites to make public perceive that disposal sites are safe. News from non-governmental opinions was “possible contamination” at 20.0% and “contamination” at 26.9%. There was no big sign of biases in the statistical result. In addition to these statistics, we tried to find negative news. We did not further pursue this trial as we needed another study on the standards of judgment for negative and positive.
3.2. The Big Outbreak Phase
The most noticeable news during the big outbreak phase was mostly from the disposal sites: the safety of drinking water and food; the poor workability of the standard operating procedure (SOP); the arbitrary process of killing and burial; and the difficulties of the field workers. The second biggest news was from the government response and included leadership and secrecy about disposal sites and contamination.
Regarding the public concern in these fields, the government solved the drinking water issue with systemized water services to all the concerned regions and cost about $4.5 billion USD. In addition, the government provided about $1.7 billion USD to the animal farmers for the costs of animal disposal [8
The leadership issue was due to the fact that the big outbreak was the first time it had been experienced. The Guidelines for Urgent Action for FMD published by the agriculture ministry classified the FMD outbreak into four levels by size. At all levels except the worst, the agriculture ministry was to be in charge of the outbreak. The worst phase was defined as an outbreak in more than three provinces and was to be controlled by the National Disaster and Safety Center under the Prime Minister during a national state of emergency. This center is normally run by the Ministry of Administration and Safety and is in charge of the missions related to local governments. At the very earliest time of the outbreak, the agriculture ministry had been in charge of the Central FMD Response Center under the Presidential Office. However, when the outbreak reached the worst level, the National Disaster and Safety Center became involved in the outbreak. These two headquarters are perceived to have mismanaged the action on behalf of the central government. Furthermore, there had been no specific definition in the laws and regulations that stated that animal epidemic was a category of the national disaster at the time of the 2010/2011 outbreak [8
The news reported other mishandling in the FMD response during the first few months. First, the agriculture ministry insisted on mass disposals in the FMD-free states, whereas The National Disaster and Safety Center, insisted on vaccination as the appropriate response. Second, there had been different opinions and responses even at local government level between the departments of agriculture, and water and environment. The agricultural department thought burial was sufficient, despite the concerns that the water and environment department had regarding the aftermath of the disposal sites [1
Regarding the measures for the outbreak field, even the SOP for FMD created mismanagement for field workers. There were two SOPs published by the agricultural ministry and the environment ministry. The SOP of the agricultural ministry focused on the quick treatment of carcasses, whereas the environment ministry focused on the management of the environment post-burial. Furthermore, the SOPs were not appropriate for mass burial, as Korea had no previous experience of big outbreaks. Therefore, the suggestions or best practices from the FMD field became the foundations of the SOP without any scientific checking or testing. In addition, untested measures or techniques suggested by high-level officers created big disputes and were finally canceled included real-time remote sensors for monitoring disposal sites [11
]; the composting of leachates from disposal sites [12
]; and burning leachate after mixing with sawdust [13
Another mishandled issue was due to the lack of resources including workforce; quicklime; and disinfectants, along with insufficient disposal sites along with the existing SOP manual [14
]. The lack of quicklime and disinfectants created many problems at the disposal sites having problems and quickly made the news [17
3.3. The No-Touch Phase
The No-Touch period of the disposal sites began from the start time of each burial. Therefore, the response to the outbreak and the disposal sites occurred almost simultaneously during the outbreak period. The agricultural ministry had responsibilities until burial, which was when the environment ministry took over; however, the local government had responsibilities in field management.
The characteristics of the social climate during the No-Touch phase are as follows: first, the environmental awakening of people had already increased sharply due to the FMD and the incident at the Fukushima Atomic Energy Plant in Japan. Second, as news about the response decreased, news regarding the evaluation increased from both government and non-governmental sources as shown in Figure 1
. This means that many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and news sources pointed out the potential contamination issues, which the government either denied or ignored the evaluation from non-government sources.
It is surprising that many news sources reported that government across all levels hid information regarding the disposal sites: Yeoju City [18
] at the city level, Choongcheongbuk-do [19
] at the province level, all local government [21
], and environment ministry [22
] at the national level.
About 70% of local government actions during the period were the response to disposal sites, such as the budget, workforce, technology or continuous monitoring.
3.4. The Reuse Phase
During the Reuse phase, news regarding disposal sites had been decreasing sharply. This may be because people are less interested in the issue as time passed. The top news from non-government sources was the evaluation of disposal sites, followed by measures and recovery. The important fact to note was that the news on evaluation have accumulated year after year, and are mostly negative about the leachates; the impacts of the leachates; and the lack of warnings regarding the danger of excavation or reuse of the disposal sites.
Information from the annual reports of the Safe-Enhancement, Action-Oriented, Flexible-Management, Eco-Friendly Technology (SAFE) Research Team [26
] concerning the disposal sites, reported that a member of the National Assembly released some facts surrounding the location of the sites placed in non-acceptable areas and that there were no signs of animal decomposition.
Regarding agricultural products, the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service announced that they had detected the disease in agricultural products near the disposal sites; however, the ratio detected was 5% out of 100 samples [27
]. In particular, news of contamination in a pig breeding region was shocking and obtained through the survey results of a local government research institute. Approximately 40% of pig disposal sites are located near a residential area, and 70% of disposal sites are exposed to contamination [24
]. News from the local Assembly reflects these types of warnings from experts. In some cases, the local Assembly pointed out that farmers had excavated disposal sites without prior reports or approval of local government [29
]. From the early period of the landfill, there has been similar news [30
] and comments from Assemblymen who called for reactions of the local government.
There were two central government policies reported in the reuse phase: the first was the report of the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea [31
] for the measures of animal disposal sites of the ministries [32
]; and the second was the announcement of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry for the reuse of animal carcasses from FMD and AI (Aviation Influenza) to animal feeds and fertilizer [33
]. The report was a national review of policies for disposal sites and revealed the statistics of the reuse of disposal sites in a province: reuse 57.1%, construction 3.7%, vacancy 38.0%, and the extension of the no-touch phase 1.1%, out of a total number of 2247 disposal sites. Furthermore, the report stated that there were leachates detected at some disposal sites, and that vacant sites after transfer were still contaminated after two years of transfer. In addition, the report pointed out some technological and managerial problems and recommendations for the relevant ministries to adjust the usage of microbiological measures during landfill; the diagnosis of contamination; the disinfection or transfer of contaminated sites; the monitoring of all the sites; the guidelines for special monitoring of contaminated sites; the excavation procedure after three years; and the selection of new disposal sites according to the new SOP. Most recommendations related to the response and measures of the agriculture ministry.
Local government actions during the reuse phase were very diverse due to their role and responsibilities for disposal sites. The issues surrounding the measures undertaken were technology, budget, the monitoring of disposal sites; and rules and guidelines. The recovery news focused on the excavation of the disposal sites; the management guidelines; and the budget. The evaluation news concerned safety; contamination; supplement; and new measures. News from experts surrounded the diagnoses of leachates at the disposal sites.