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Lawmaker tables bill on mandating nonflammable material in noise tunnels

08:00 January 23, 2023

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- A ruling party lawmaker has tabled a revision bill on mandating the use of nonflammable material in building noise-barrier tunnels following a deadly expressway fire in December.

Under the bill proposed by Rep. Yoon Doo-hyun of the People Power Party, noise-barrier tunnels at expressways should be constructed with nonflammable material specified by the transportation ministry.

The proposal comes after a blaze inside a noise-barrier tunnel in Gwacheon, just south of Seoul, on the Second Gyeongin Expressway killed five and injured 44 others on Dec. 29.

The fire reportedly started from a 5-ton garbage truck and rapidly spread to engulf soundproof awnings, leaving several dozens of cars trapped inside the tunnel. Critics claimed polymethyl methacrylate, the material used for the tunnel's walls and ceilings, worsened the fire.

In a government response meeting held after the accident, Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Won Hee-ryong stressed the need to build noise-barrier tunnels with safer material.

"Safety concerns among the public have escalated following the major fire accident at the noise-barrier tunnel," Yoon said. "The revision bill will provide the legal grounds in securing safety and preventing fires."

Firefighters battle a fire inside a noise-barrier tunnel on an expressway in Gwacheon, just south of Seoul, on Dec. 29, 2022. At least five people were found dead and 37 others injured, three of them seriously, in the fire that broke out at 1:49 p.m. inside the tunnel, fire authorities said. (Yonhap)



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