Antinuclear Policy and its Progress in South Korea
Antinuclear Policy and its Progress in South Korea
  • Reporter Park Hee-won
  • 승인 2017.09.20 07:18
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In 2011, the Fukushima nuclear disaster broke out. Initiated primarily by the tsunami following the Tohuku earthquake, huge amounts of radiation was spilled. It was the most significant nuclear incident after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 to be given the level seven event classification. Propelled by these risks, negating construction of new nuclear plants was a presidential election pledge of our president following the lead of other countries such as Germany.
The Kori nuclear power plant unit one was permanently shutdown last June because of numerous safety accidents. Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea declared an antinuclear policy on that day. Shutting 11 nuclear reactors down until 2030 was roadmap of his government. 25 plants are presently in function and five are currently in construction. Also, he tentatively stopped the new Kori nuclear power station units, five and six that were in construction.
However, people were against it and protested because 30% of the units were completed. If units in progress were totally shutdown, it would cost over two trillion KRW including compensation expenses. A committee is surveying public opinions and the units will know their fate by October. A few mass rallies on both sides took place in Ulsan. President Moon emphasized that our 60-year antinuclear plan is not about shutting down functioning plants but building no more plants and shutting down worn out nuclear reactors. He might change his pledge moderately by listening to various citizen groups. However, for now, the future of this policy is fixed.
Germany is widely known for a fixed antinuclear policy spurred on by the Fukushima disaster. Seven nuclear plants have been shut down already and all 17 reactors will be closed by 2022. Various committees discussed these nuclear issues together and broadcasted the process clearly to all citizens. Also, they tried to reflect opinions that concluded that nuclear power plants should come to an end. In Austria, Zwentendorf nuclear power plant was built in 1978. However, critics and citizens stubbornly opposed its continuation, so a referendum was held. These nations now utilize and develop other energy sources especially renewable energy.
In Finland, the decision to build two nuclear stations was made recently to lower dependence of natural gas from Russia. The UAE and Vietnam are rich in their resources but nuclear plants are functioning because they are efficient and stable.
In the nations referred to above, there were voices fiercely debating on this controversial issue. Advocates claim that nuclear power is more economic than burning fossil fuels. They are useful for stability in supplying electricity and produce much less greenhouse gases. On the other hand, objectors insist renewable energy is more stable in terms of uranium’s scarcity and safety. Because of poor sustainability and responsibility for safety and necessity, they claim nuclear power generation should be forbidden.
By examples from other countries, we can conclude that nuclear power generation obviously has its pros and cons. As this is the first time that citizens in South Korea can have an affect on environmental policy directly, I hope we are to make reasonable choices. In the case that an antinuclear policy succeeds, our government should prepare for electricity supply through other ways.