Nuclear's woes continue as South Korea scraps new plants, signals long-term shift

9:32 am JST																S. Korea begins shut down of its first and oldest commercial reactor

But South Korean industries are anxious, since nuclear and coal power cuts are certain to raise energy costs and could squeeze the country's electricity supply.

In a speech made during the official ceremony to mark the shutdown of the country's oldest nuclear power plant Moon promised to scrap existing plans for new nuclear plants, not extend the life of existing ones, shut down 10 old coal power plants and cancel new coal projects.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in has used the permanent shutdown of Kori unit 1 to outline his intended nuclear energy phase-out policy. "So far, the country's energy policy focused on low prices and efficiency". But it's time for a change. "We will abandon the development policy centred on nuclear power plants and exit the era of nuclear energy". During his campaign, Moon vowed to review plans to add new eight nuclear reactors, including the part-completed Shin Kori No.5 and Kori No.6.

He also said the government will seek to shut down the country's second-oldest nuclear reactor, the Wolsong No 1, as soon as possible depending on the country's power supply conditions.

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.

Moon's speech was made at a ceremony marking the shutdown of the country's oldest nuclear power plant, Kori 1, almost 40 years after it went online.




The environment advocacy group Greenpeace beams a message reading "Goodbye Kori-1" on the wall of the nuclear reactor in Busan, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul on June 19, 2017. Its nuclear electricity production was the fifth-largest in the world, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Public support for nuclear power has been undermined by a local scandal in 2010 over forged certificates for spare parts and the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in neighbouring Japan.

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.

The former president Lee Myung-bak saw nuclear as an important source of clean energy, while Park wanted to increase the number of reactors to 36 by 2029. "South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquakes", he said.

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

Decommissioning Kori Unit 1, meanwhile, is expected to take 16 years at a cost of about $600 million.

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