Urgent Need: Korea Pressed by Urgent Construction of Spent Nuclear Fuel Treatment Facilities | BusinessKorea

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

If Wolsong Reactor No. 1 is prematurely closed, the most urgent problem is the disposal of its spent nuclear fuel.
If Wolsong Reactor No. 1 is prematurely closed, the most urgent problem is the disposal of its spent nuclear fuel.
27 October 2017 - 11:45am
Jung Min-hee

The disposal of spent nuclear fuels (high-level radioactive waste) has been emerging as a "hot issue" after the government announced a policy to resume the construction of Shin-Kori Units 5 and 6. As early as two years later, a temporary storage facility will be filled with spent fuels, but it is still unclear when the government will be able to secure an intermediate storage facility and a permanent repository. The issue of disposal of spent nuclear fuel at Wolseong Reactor 1 which the government decided to shut down immediately has become a matter that the government has to do something about quickly.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on October 25, Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant based on a heavy water reactor will face its saturated spent fuel storage facility in 2019, two years later from now. Spent fuel storage facilities will be saturated at Hanbit and Kori in 2024, Hanwool in 2037 and Shin Wolseong in 2038.

Earlier, the Park Geun-hye government prepared a roadmap to operate a permanent disposal facility in 2053 after selecting a site in 2028 via a public debate and survey committee from 2013 to 2015, and decided to build an intermediate storage facility by 2035. Based on this plan, in July of last year, the government laid out the High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Basic Plan.'

However, the basic plan needs revising due to the Moon Jae-in government's plan to reduce nuclear power such as the scrapping of the construction of new nuclear power plants and the early closure of Wolseong Reactor No. 1.

The most urgent problem is the disposal of spent nuclear fuel from Wolsong Reactor No. 1. This is because if it is prematurely closed, there will be a big possibility that it will become difficult to even secure a site for temporary storage facilities.  Local residents’ resistance is strong against the temporary storage of spent fuels.

In a recommendation made by the Public Debate Commission on October 21, 25.3 percent of the civic participation group cited "coming up with solutions to spent nuclear fuel treatment problems” as a complementary measure for the resumption of the construction of Shin-Kori Units 5 and 6". The government is also likely to try a second public debate based on its judgment that the issue of spent nuclear fuel treatment problems has not been sufficiently discussed.

Spent fuel treatment is divided into three -- temporary storage, intermediate storage, and permanent disposal. At present, nuclear power plants in Korea secure temporary storage facilities in nuclear power plant sites. However, if there is no more land for temporary storage facilities, an additional intermediate storage facility for 40 to 50 years before the permanent disposal or a permanent repository should be prepared.




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