South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to announce his roadmap to phase out from heavy reliance on nuclear energy on June 19 while attending a ceremony closing down the country’s first reactor.
During a briefing session of the presidential planning and advisory committee on Monday, Lee Kae-ho, head of the commission’s second economic team, urged nuclear related organizations including the Nuclear Security and Safety Commission (NSSC) to map out long-term outline of shifting energy policy more oriented towards renewable clean sources from fossil-fueled and nuclear reactors that carry environmental and security risks as promised by Moon during campaign.
Moon had vowed to close down aged nuclear plants and stop building new ones in an aim to push the number of 25 reactors to zero over the next 40 years.
Korea started to build atomic plants in the 1970s and runs 25 that are responsible for about a third of the country’s power supply. Moon has vowed to shift the country’s energy dependency away from nuclear power to natural gas and renewable energies.
The commission, in charge of setting up public policy of the new administration for the next five years, also asked the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) to participate in the briefing sessions on nuclear power policy.
Based on the plans to be prepared by related government departments, President Moon will likely announce his zero nuclear plant roadmap during an event to be held on June 19 to permanently shut down the country’s oldest Kori-1 nuclear reactor, according to sources.
The KHNP has suspended building Shin Hanul 3 and 4 reactors scheduled to start construction this month until the new government’s plans on atomic energy come out. The Shin Kori 3, 4 and Shin Hanul 1, 2 reactors are still under construction as they are almost 90 percent completed, but industry watchers believe the construction of Shin Kori 5, 6 reactors that are just 28 percent completed would be stopped.
The Wolsung-1 reactor located in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, will also likely to be closed down as environmental groups and local residents won a court injunction on the government’s approval of extended operation for another 10 years of the reactor that had already completed its 30-year run in November 2012. The reactor has been at the heart of the safety concerns for old nuclear plants due to a series of breakdowns caused by power outages. If the plaintiff wins once again in an appeals trial scheduled on June 5, experts believe the NSSC and KHNP would announce the shutdown of the reactor.
By Ko Jae-man and Jin Young-tae
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]