South Korea’s administration has learned well from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, whereas Japan’s administration is still living in denial orchestrating cover-up and lies.
South Korea currently operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about 30 percent of the country’s power supply
S. Korea to scrap all plans to build new nuclear reactors
South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-In vowed on Monday to scrap all plans to build new nuclear reactors as he seeks to steer Asia’s fourth-largest economy clear of atomic power.
Moon, who swept to power with a landslide election win last month, campaigned on promises to phase out atomic energy and embrace what he says are safer and more environmentally-friendly power sources including solar and wind power.
The Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan sparked by a powerful earthquake in March 2011 sparked widespread public concern in neighbouring South Korea over its own aged atomic plants.
“We will dump our atomic-centric power supply and open the door to the post-nuclear era,” Moon said in a speech marking the decommissioning of the country’s first nuclear reactor, the Kori-1.
“I will scrap all preparations to build new reactors currently underway and will not extend lifespan of current reactors,” he said.
Many reactors are located dangerously close to residential areas in the densely-populated nation, Moon said, warning of “unimaginable consequences” in case of a nuclear meltdown.
“South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquake, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact,” he said.
South Korea currently operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about 30 percent of the country’s power supply.
Many of them will see their lifespans expire between 2020 to 2030, with decisions on whether to extend some of their operations set to be made during Moon’s 2017-2022 term.
Moon, during his presidential campaign, vowed to try to eventually shut down all nuclear power plants across the country, although doing so will likely take decades.
Major corruption scandals involving state nuclear power agencies in recent years and a series of earthquakes last year further fanned public distrust and concerns over the safety of the plants.
Moon on Monday also vowed to decommission “as soon as possible” another aged atomic plant in the southeast, whose original 30-year lifespan had been extended by another decade to 2022.
He also vowed to introduce “post-coal” policy in line with his campaign promise to abandon coal power to ease air pollution in the country, which has the highest level of small air pollutant particles among OECD member nations.
But experts say shutdown of coal power plants could dramatically hike utility cost in the country where coal power generates about 40 percent of entire power needs.
Korea’s oldest nuclear reactor ceases operation
Kori No. 1, South Korea’s oldest nuclear reactor located in Busan, ceased operation Sunday at midnight after four decades.
Its operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. said that it cut the power supply Saturday and began the cooling-down process of the reactor.
Kori No.1, South Korea’s first and the oldest nuclear reactor is seen in southern city of Busan.
It was officially decommissioned, with the temperature of the reactor gradually dropping to 90 degrees Celsius, from its normal operation at 300 degree Celsius, the KHNP said. Officials will then relocate the spent nuclear fuel stored inside the rector to a liquid sodium-cooled reactor for reprocessing.
The actual dismantling of the facilities is expected to start no later than 2022. The KHNP expects that at least 634 billion won ($559 million) is required for the dismantling. They also need to submit a dismantlement plan within five years for the NCCS’ approval.
The state-run Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, which approved earlier this month the permanent shutdown of Kori No. 1, said it will continue to check the safety management of the suspended reactor on a regular basis until the dismantlement.
Following the government’s approval in 2007, Kori No. 1’s operation was extended by 10 years after a 30-year run.
Some experts oppose the planned reprocessing of nuclear waste, saying the technology, though effective in reducing the volume of waste, could complicate waste disposal by creating different types of radioactive waste.
Under President Moon Jae-in, the South Korean government aims to close all nuclear power plants by shutting down aged facilities and eventually phasing out the rest over the next 40 years.
Korea’s first nuclear plant suspended after 40 years of operation
Built as Korea’s first nuclear power plant at Gijang County, Busan, Gori-1 came to a halt after completing its four decades of service, providing electricity since 1978. Gori-1 ended its chapter in the history of Korean nuclear power generation, being the first-ever nuclear powerhouse and the first of its kind to be out of service for good.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) opened its 70th meeting on Friday and announced that it has approved the permanent suspension of Gori-1, requested by the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) last June. Under the recent approval, KHNP will stop operating the aged plant, and will cool nuclear fuels as of midnight on June 19. KHNP plans to dissemble the plant in earnest starting in 2022.
Gori-1 opened an era of commercial nuclear power generation in Korea on April 29, 1978. Meeting the rapidly increasing power demands amid economic growth, it has layed grounds for the nation to develop into an industrial state. While it reached its design life (30 years) in June 2007, the plant was resuscitated and was operated for an additional 10 years after undergoing full repair and consensus with residents.
Some view the first permanent suspension of a Korean nuclear plant as the first step towards denuclearization by the new administration. During his campaign, President Moon Jae-in pledged to immediately close down outdated nuclear plants and reduce nuclear power generation. Under the recent decision made by NSSC, experts view that the extension policy for the lifecycle of a nuclear plant will be set as “once for 10 years.” KHNP will hold a ceremony to celebrate the permanent halt of Gori-1 on June 19.