South Korea President Details Plans to Exit Nuclear Power

Elias Hubbard
June 19, 2017

The Fukushima nuclear meltdown in March 2011 in Japan sparked by a tsunami which was the result of a powerful natural disaster, triggered widespread public concern in neighboring South Korea over its own aged atomic plants.

The city of Busan on South Korea's southeastern coast said Monday it will strengthen cooperation with the Argonne National Laboratory, a research institute funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, on decommissioning nuclear reactors following the shutdown of a commercial nuclear reactor in the city.

Speaking at an event to mark the closure of the country's oldest nuclear plant, Kori-1, he said: "So far, South Korea's energy policy pursued cheap prices and efficiency".

Moon said another aged nuclear reactor, whose lifespan was extended by 10 years to 2022, would be dismantled as soon as possible while considering the situations of power supply. Last year, a third of electricity in South Korea was produced from nuclear power plants. The sign reads " A ceremony marking the shutdown of the Kori 1".

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.

South Korea now runs 25 nuclear power plants, which generate about 30 percent of the country's power supply.

"I will scrap all preparations to build new reactors now underway and will not extend the lifespan of current reactors", he said.

Some experts hope that shutting the reactor may help South Korea catch up to the United States, Japan and Germany in decommissioning plants. Its nuclear power production from 25 nuclear plants in 2016 was the fifth-largest in the world, according to the World Nuclear Association.

The country will instead boost power supplies from clean and renewable energy sources, Moon added. Numerous reactors are located near residential areas along the country's southeast coast.

South Korea is wrestling with air pollution problems that cost the country about $9bn a year, including carcinogenic fine dust particles.

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

Then, it needs 15 more years to move the used nuclear fuel to a separate storage space, remove related buildings and other facilities of the plant and restore the site to being a radioactive-free area.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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