S.Korea's President Moon says plans to exit nuclear power

S.Korea's President Moon says plans to exit nuclear power

S.Korea's President Moon says plans to exit nuclear power

The announcement was made today by newly installed president Moon Jae-in.

"In the lead up to the presidential election, I promised to make a safe Republic of Korea", the president said in a ceremony in Busan, marking the permanent shutdown of the country's first nuclear reactor, the Kori-1.

South Korea has 25 nuclear reactors, supplying about a third of the country's total electricity. But it's time for a change. Moon said Monday that South Korea will move away from the nuclear energy and will not seek to extend the life of existing nuclear plants. The plant was originally created to run for 30 years, but the government decided in December 2007 to extend its operation for another decade.

Moon said another aged nuclear reactor, whose lifespan was extended by 10 years to 2022, would be dismantled as soon as possible while considering the situations of power supply.

Major corruption scandals involving state nuclear power agencies in recent years and a series of earthquakes last year further fanned public distrust and concerns over the safety of the plants.

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.

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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. He said the seismic resistance of the country's nuclear power plants - which had been reinforced since the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan - would be re-examined. Instead of nuclear energy, the government will actively invest and support renewable energy like solar power and offshore wind power, and power generation using liquefied natural gas.

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.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have long warned of the potentially disastrous consequences of a meltdown at a nuclear plant in South Korea, where many reactors are close to densely populated areas. South Korea is also searching for answers on how and where to store spent nuclear fuels permanently.

He hailed the shutdown of the reactor, calling it the start of the country's journey to becoming a nuclear-free nation and a safer South Korea.

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

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