Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Research | By Chelsea Rogers

Moon vows to scrap all plans for new nuclear reactors

Moon vows to scrap all plans for new nuclear reactors

South Korea has 25 nuclear reactors, supplying about a third of the country's total electricity.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday vowed to upend the energy production mix in the country with a one-two punch: The phase out of nuclear power and a sharp cut back on coal-burning energy plants. He compared running nuclear reactors beyond their originally planned life spans to the Sewol ferry disaster. We will completely reexamine the existing policies on nuclear power. President Moon pledged that his administration will proactively cultivate green and sustainable energy like solar and offshore wind power, and establish an energy ecosystem suitable for the fourth industrial revolution.

The President also hinted at halting the ongoing construction of two new nuclear reactors, saying the government will "secure a public consensus" on their fate in the near future.

(.) While the decision to shut down the Kori-1 was made long before President Moon took office, the President himself has pledged to close down all nuclear power plants on Korean soil.

With the country still setting its long-term energy plans, it is unclear how many will be replaced by new reactors. "The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission will be promoted to a presidential commission", Moon said, "to heighten its authority and improve diversity, representativeness and independence". "We will completely scrap construction plans for new nuclear reactors that are now under way".

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Changes will not only mean the decommissioning of older reactors but also the suspension of work on new reactors. "I will shut down 10 aged coal plants during my presidency".

Concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants due to earthquakes was one reason for the phase-out policy, Moon said. Even if South Korea starts the phase-out now, it will take several decades until the currently operating fleet of reactors reach the end of their operation, Moon noted.

The Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan sparked by a powerful quake in March 2011 sparked widespread public concern in neighbouring South Korea over its own aged atomic plants.

The KHNP will also seek a review of its plans by the International Atomic Energy Agency. South Korea is also searching for answers on how and where to store spent nuclear fuels permanently.

With a tie-up with Argonne, the Busan municipality hopes it will share technologies to decommission nuclear reactors and give a boost to the nurturing of related industries.

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