Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power has decided that South Korea's oldest nuclear reactor, Kori 1, will be permanently shutdown in June 2017.
Kori 1 is a 603MWe pressurised water reactor, which started operation in 1978.
The reactor is licensed to operate until 2017. KHNP had previously been considering applying for an additional ten-year operating licence extension, but it decided not to proceed following a 'long discussion' at a board of directors meeting on 16 June.
While KHNP executives agreed that Kori 1 was safe enough for the second round of continued operation there was some disagreement over the economics.
Some participants felt it was economic for Kori 1 to continue to operate based on a recent study carried out by the Korea Energy Economics Institute and the National Assembly Budget Office. Others, however, felt that with the prolonged licensing period and possible increases in subsidies to be provided to local areas, the economics were in doubt. In the end, KHNP said it determined the economics of continued operation were 'unclear.'
Immediately after the board of directors' meeting, KHNP president Cho Seok said in an e-mail to all KHNP directors and employees: "You may feel some sorrow over the decision to stop the operation of Kori 1, despite the fact that its safety has been ensured. However, we are living in a new era for nuclear power plants."
"To ensure that we overcome the challenges posed by these changes, and to make such changes into opportunities, I will be leading the task force team to make sure everything is prepared and done properly for Kori 1, until its operation is put to a permanent stop."
KHNP, which has significant experience in construction and operation of nuclear plants, said it is now poised to obtain skills and techniques in the areas of dismantling, decommissioning and radioactive waste management.