South Korea to scrap all plans to build new nuclear reactors

South Korea to scrap all plans to build new nuclear reactors

Our Kim In-kyung has more.

President Moon attended a ceremony Monday morning to proclaim Korea's first commercial nuclear reactor's retirement at the Kori Nuclear Power Plant in Busan.

The shutdown of Kori-1 is estimated to cost more than $500 million, and the construction of dry cask storage at the site, which will contain spent fuel that that has already been cooled, could anger local residents, according to Segye Ilbo.

South Korea a year ago unveiled a plan to pick a site for permanent storage of its high level radioactive waste by 2028.

Moon, who was 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. "We will completely scrap construction plans for new nuclear reactors that are now under way", the South Korean leader said, adding the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has "clearly proved that nuclear reactors are neither safe, economical nor environmentally friendly".

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.

More news: Comatose US Student Freed by North Korea Has Severe Brain Injury

South Korean nuclear technology is now an export business headed by the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company, a subsidiary of the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), which is 51 percent owned by the South Korean government. "We will abandon the development policy centred on nuclear power plants and exit the era of nuclear energy".

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.

The president said the business community's concerns about power shortages, energy bill hikes and the expense of shutting down reactors can not deter his nuclear-free energy policy. Nuclear safety reemerged as a major issue for the public after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan in 2011, caused by an quake and tsunami.

President Moon has said he wants to increase the portion of renewable energy to 20% by 2030 and increase LNG imports, possibly through a Russian pipeline passing through North Korean territory.

He also said the government will build a new research institute in the southeastern region to work on technologies required to dismantle nuclear reactors.

But a scandal over forged certificates for spare parts in 2012 and the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in neighboring Japan have undermined public support for nuclear power, while the new left-leaning government aims to speed up plans to move away from both coal and nuclear.

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