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Lotte cover-up scares visitors

The aquarium inside the second Lotte World / Yonhap

By Jung Min-ho


Two months ago, Na Kyong-chae, a mother of two children, bought yearly memberships to the aquarium inside the second Lotte World. But after the government found at least three water leaks there Wednesday, she immediately demanded a refund.

"I'm not going there again," she said. "All of my friends also received refunds. They are very concerned about a potential major accident."

Concerns are mounting over the nation's largest aquarium, which holds 4,000 tons of water and 55,000 sea creatures of 650 species.

Yet what apparently worries people more than the water-leaking cracks found in the main water tank and on the side of the tank where Beluga whales are kept, is the nonchalant attitude of Lotte and the government.

After Lotte officials discovered the cracks on Saturday, they did not inform visitors of the problem. Instead, they just blocked off the area around the leaking tank by putting up signs that read "cleaning" and "environment improvement" to keep people away.

"I think it is the company's responsibility to tell visitors about the potential risks," Na said. "If it turns into a big accident, it could hurt not only me, but also my children. That's why I canceled the memberships."

After an investigation, the Ministry of Public Safety and Security will ask the Seoul Metropolitan Government to inspect the facility again. But no disciplinary actions have been taken against Lotte.

Experts warn that minor problems should be dealt with seriously because they could cause a massive disaster, given that there is a three-story underground 154,000-volt transformer substation sitting right below the aquarium.

Na received a full refund for two tickets, which cost 130,000 won ($110). She said the company will give full refunds to those who want them following disclosure of the problem.

Another resident who lives in Jamsil, near the complex, is concerned about the building after a series of safety issues made headlines this year, including sinkholes and cracks.

"I have lived in Jamsil for more than 30 years, and I have never felt more unsafe than nowadays," she said, refusing to give her name. "I don't understand what the inspections are for, since it is clear that the Tower will not be closed unless a major disaster occurs.

"I hope that nothing happens, but if it does former President Lee Myung-bak and Lotte have to take the biggest blame."

In October, cracks were found in the floor of the food court. Lotte said that they were just part of the old-fashioned style of the court.

Not long after, an employee of a Lotte subcontractor was cut when a piece of metal fell on him from the third floor of the building. His injuries were minor, but the accident deepened the public's concerns.

Most recently, new cracks were spotted on the eighth floor early last month.



Korean Language

'변전소 위 누수' 제2롯데 수족관에 정밀진단 명령

정부, 접합·방수 전면재시공 요구…점검단장 '충분한 시험없이 개장'
안전처 '사용제한 조처는 안해'…롯데 '당국와 협의거쳐 진단업체 선정'

특고압 변전소 위에 설치된 제2롯데월드 수족관 곳곳에서 누수 현상이 확인돼 대형재난 가능성을 우려한 당국이 정밀안전진단이 필요하다고 결론지었다.

롯데월드는 즉시 외부 기관에 정밀진단을 의뢰하겠다고 밝혔지만, 안전진단이 진행되는 동안 영업을 중단하지는 않을 방침이이서 논란이 예상된다.

국민안전처는 지난 10일 전문가와 당국자 등 11명으로 구성된 정부합동안전점검단을 꾸려 건축시공, 토목구조, 전기안전, 재난관리 등 4개 분야에 걸쳐 제2롯데월드 수족관에 대한 점검을 벌여 11일 결과를 발표했다.

이에 따르면 당초 알려진 주(主) 수족관 외에 벨루가 수족관에서 추가로 누수 지점 2곳이 확인됐다.

누수현상의 원인은 수조의 아크릴과 콘크리트벽을 접착시키는 실런트 시공의 하자 때문으로 추정됐다.

점검단은 그러나 주 수조 외에 추가 누수 현상이 발견됨에 따라 더 정확한 원인을 규명하려면 정밀안전진단이 필요하다고 판단했다.

롯데월드는 추가 누수 지점이 있다는 사실을 숨기다가 점검단이 이를 인지하자 뒤늦게 보수 사실을 시인한 것으로 전해졌다.

점검단은 또 제2롯데월드 수족관이 특고압변전소 위에 설치된 특이 상황을 고려할 때 시공과 시험가동을 철저히 했어야 하는데 그렇지 못했다고 지적했다.

김찬오 점검단장(서울과기대 교수)은 기자회견에서 '롯데가 테스트를 끝내지 않고 조기개장한 것으로 알고 있다'면서 '(철저히 시험을 거쳐 영업을 시작하는 외국 과 달리) 제2롯데월드 수족관은 영업을 시작한뒤 문제가 발견됐다'고 말했다.

점검단은 또 대량 누수 등 재난이 발생할 경우 대피통로 안내가 없어 이용객의 혼란을 초래할 수 있고 롯데월드의 위기관리 매뉴얼 및 재해경감계획이 미흡하다는 점을 지적했다.

이에 따라 안전처는 관할 행정기관인 서울시를 통해 롯데월드에 정밀안전진단 명령을 내리고, 결과가 나오는 대로 실런트 전면재시공 등 문제점 보완을 요구할 계획이다.

롯데월드는 정밀진단의 공정성 논란을 차단하기 위해 복수의 외부업체를 선정한 뒤 정부합동안전점검단과 협의해 진단업체를 최종 선정할 계획이다.

김동현 안전처 생활안전정책관은 '현 단계에서는 사용제한 조치하기에는 법적으로 하자가 있다'고 말해 롯데월드측은 일단 수족관 영업을 계속할 수 있게 됐다.

롯데월드 측은 '점검 결과를 투명하게 공개하고 보수·보강 등 필요한 조치를 완벽하게 이행하겠다'며 '재난 발생시 사용될 피난로 표시와 위기관리 매뉴얼, 재해경감 계획도 전문가 의견을 반영해 보완하겠다'고 강조했다. (연합뉴스)



The aquarium inside the second Lotte World / Yonhap

By Jung Min-ho


Two months ago, Na Kyong-chae, a mother of two children, bought yearly memberships to the aquarium inside the second Lotte World. But after the government found at least three water leaks there Wednesday, she immediately demanded a refund.

"I'm not going there again," she said. "All of my friends also received refunds. They are very concerned about a potential major accident."

Concerns are mounting over the nation's largest aquarium, which holds 4,000 tons of water and 55,000 sea creatures of 650 species.

Yet what apparently worries people more than the water-leaking cracks found in the main water tank and on the side of the tank where Beluga whales are kept, is the nonchalant attitude of Lotte and the government.

After Lotte officials discovered the cracks on Saturday, they did not inform visitors of the problem. Instead, they just blocked off the area around the leaking tank by putting up signs that read "cleaning" and "environment improvement" to keep people away.

"I think it is the company's responsibility to tell visitors about the potential risks," Na said. "If it turns into a big accident, it could hurt not only me, but also my children. That's why I canceled the memberships."

After an investigation, the Ministry of Public Safety and Security will ask the Seoul Metropolitan Government to inspect the facility again. But no disciplinary actions have been taken against Lotte.

Experts warn that minor problems should be dealt with seriously because they could cause a massive disaster, given that there is a three-story underground 154,000-volt transformer substation sitting right below the aquarium.

Na received a full refund for two tickets, which cost 130,000 won ($110). She said the company will give full refunds to those who want them following disclosure of the problem.

Another resident who lives in Jamsil, near the complex, is concerned about the building after a series of safety issues made headlines this year, including sinkholes and cracks.

"I have lived in Jamsil for more than 30 years, and I have never felt more unsafe than nowadays," she said, refusing to give her name. "I don't understand what the inspections are for, since it is clear that the Tower will not be closed unless a major disaster occurs.

"I hope that nothing happens, but if it does former President Lee Myung-bak and Lotte have to take the biggest blame."

In October, cracks were found in the floor of the food court. Lotte said that they were just part of the old-fashioned style of the court.

Not long after, an employee of a Lotte subcontractor was cut when a piece of metal fell on him from the third floor of the building. His injuries were minor, but the accident deepened the public's concerns.

Most recently, new cracks were spotted on the eighth floor early last month.



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