South Korea an­nounces it will close old­est nu­clear re­ac­tor

The China Post - - SPORTS -

South Korea’s old­est nu­clear re­ac­tor is ex­pected to be shut down per­ma­nently in 2017 af­ter grow­ing safety con­cerns over the age­ing fa­cil­ity.

A state en­ergy com­mit­tee has de­cided to urge the state-fi­nanced Korea Hy­dro and Nu­clear Power Co. (KHNP) to close the Gori Re­ac­tor No.1 in the south­ern port of Bu­san.

The 580 megawatt re­ac­tor would be the first re­ac­tor to be closed in South Korea.

“We have de­cided that it would be de­sir­able for the re­ac­tor to be shut down per­ma­nently for the sake of mid­dle-and-long term devel­op­ment of the nu­clear in­dus­try,” En­ergy Min­is­ter Yoon Sang-jick told jour­nal­ists.

“We will ad­vise KHNP to do so,” Yoon, chair of the com­mit­tee, said af­ter pre­sid­ing over the com­mit­tee’s pol­icy-mak­ing ses­sion.

Built with U.S. West­ing­house tech­nol­ogy, the re­ac­tor started com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion in 1978.

Its ini­tial life cy­cle ended in 2007 but the gov­ern­ment in 2008 granted it a new lease of life, al­low­ing it to con­tinue op­er­at­ing un­til 2017.

En­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists wel­comed the clo­sure of the re­ac­tor, which they say has been dogged by trou­bles of vary­ing de­grees.

Korean Fed­er­a­tion of En­vi­ron­men­tal Move­ment, an um­brella group of pro-en­vi­ron­ment ac­tivists, said 3.4 mil­lion peo­ple are living within a 30-kilo­me­ter (18.75 miles) ra­dius of the re­ac­tor. It urged the gov­ern­ment to close an­other age­ing re­ac­tor which was al­lowed to con­tinue run­ning un­til 2022.

The gov­ern­ment in Fe­bru­ary gave a 10-year ex­ten­sion to the life of Wol­song Re­ac­tor No.1 near the south­east­ern city of Gyeongju.

South Korea cur­rently has 23 nu­clear re­ac­tors in op­er­a­tion, which meet one-third of the coun­try’s power needs.

Five more are un­der con­struc­tion and four oth­ers are be­ing planned, a KHNP spokesman said.

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