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Incheon cafeterias closed due to rusty water

June 07,2019
Over 60 schools in Incheon shut down their cafeterias on Wednesday due to rusty tap water, which has plagued the city for days.

Rusty tap water was first reported in residential areas in Geomam-dong, Baekseok-dong and Dangha-dong of Seo District, Incheon, on May 30.

A preliminary investigation found that construction work at a water intake center in Songpa District, southern Seoul, near the Han River may have had an impact on the tap water flowing from the center to the area of Incheon.

Waterworks Headquarters Incheon Metropolitan City said it will be investigating the case thoroughly for the next few days.

A number of residents in the area have complained of stomachaches or skin problems after drinking or using the tap water earlier in the week.

The waterworks agency, however, examined the tap water at some 8,500 households and 10 schools in the affected areas and said the quality of the water was “adequate.”

“If further investigation yields results that clearly point out the cause and effect of the rusty water and damages and costs inflicted on the residents, we will be sure to work on how best to compensate them,” said an official of the Waterworks Headquarters Incheon Metropolitan City.

The agency said it will provide some 500,000 bottles of water to the affected areas in the meanwhile.

Rusty tap water was also reported in Yeongjong-dong, Jung District in Incheon on Monday.

“A change in the water system [due to the construction work] seems to have caused rusty water in both areas,” said the Incheon Waterworks official. “We are at the moment emptying the local water tank in the Yeongjong area and refilling it to see if the water is still rusty.”

The Incheon Metropolitan City Office of Education asked 64 elementary, middle and high schools in the affected regions that rely on tap water to cook lunch for students to shut down their cafeterias until the issue is resolved.

Of these, 49 schools decided to order students’ lunch from outside, 13 schools decided not to hold classes past noon, and two schools decided to ask the students to bring their own lunch for a while.

“[Of the 64 schools in the affected areas,] the rusty water is coming out of the tap in only 15 schools,” said an official of Incheon Metropolitan City Office of Education. “But we decided to stop all of their cafeterias from cooking lunch after parents expressed concerns.”

“I apologize for the damages and concerns the issue has caused residents of Incheon,” said Incheon Mayor Park Nam-chun in a city government meeting on Monday. “The city government has ordered the waterworks agency and other bodies to come up with a thorough plan to meet the affected residents’ needs.”

BY SHIM SEOK-YONG, CHAE HYE-SEON [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]