Nuclear's woes continue as South Korea scraps new plants, signals long-term shift

20 June, 2017, 01:17 | Author: Jacqueline Ellis
  • Nuclear's woes continue as South Korea scraps new plants, signals long-term shift

Experts say the shutdown of coal power plants could dramatically hike utility cost in a country where coal power generates about 40 percent of its entire power needs.

"The nuclear-centered energy policy will be abolished and Korea will move toward a nuclear-free era", he said.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in has used the permanent shutdown of Kori unit 1 to outline his intended nuclear energy phase-out policy.

Moon said he will soon reach a consensus on the Shin Kori No 5 and Shin Kori No 6 reactors after fully considering their construction costs, safety and the potential costs of paying compensation.

Among the 25 nuclear reactors being operated in South Korea, many of them will be subject to review over whether to extend their lifespans during the five-year presidency of Moon that ends in 2022.

Reminding the public that it was his campaign pledge to make a safe Korea, Moon said he, as president, will directly manage the nuclear energy policy.

The president said all plans to build new nuclear reactors, for which preparations were already being made, will be scrapped and that lifespan of existing reactors will not be extended.

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The country was the fifth-largest producer of nuclear energy past year, according to the World Nuclear Association, with its 25 reactors generating about a third of its electricity.

Moon added that he would not extend the operation of ageing reactors, many of which will come to the end of their lifespans between 2020 and 2030.

The public's support for nuclear power has weakened since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown and a 2013 corruption scandal over fake safety certificates for reactor parts.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have long warned of the potentially disastrous consequences of a meltdown at a nuclear plant in South Korea, where many reactors are close to densely populated areas.

The conservative administrations of former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye both pushed for nuclear reactors.

"South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquakes, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact". He said that the Kori-1 reactor has been the symbol of Korea's industrialization and enabled the nation to meet its increasing energy demands. South Korea is also searching for answers on how and where to store spent nuclear fuels permanently.

Even the decommissioning and "immediate dismantlement" of Kori-1 is to take place across a time span of 15 years, according to Segye Ilbo.

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