South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on 22 October promised to enhance the safety of nuclear reactors after accepting a recommendation by a public debate commission to resume the construction of two new nuclear reactors at the Shin-Kori NPP that he previously said he would cancel.
"The government will quickly resume the construction of the Shin-Kori 5 and Shin-Kori 6 in accordance with the outcome of the debate," the president said in a statement.
On 20 October, contrary to expectation, the state commission, following a three-month deliberation process, had recommended that the two unfinished nuclear reactors should be completed and put in operation. Construction had been suspended since June when work was 29.5% complete, and KRW1,600bn ($1.4bn) had already been spent on the project. The commission’s decision was based on four rounds of surveys on the “citizen jury,” a group of 471 ordinary South Koreans. After a month of discussions and presentations from experts and different interest groups, the jury was 59.% for the resumption of construction, while 40.5% wanted to see the project cancelled. The result has a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of plus and minus 3.6 percentage points, said Kim Ji-hyoung, the head of the nine-member committee.
However, the jury supported wider government policy aimed at reducing nuclear energy dependence. President Moon Jae-in was elected in May, following a campaign that called for reducing South Korea’s nuclear and coal-fired power generation in favour of natural gas and renewables. South Korea’s oldest reactor, Kori 1, has already been closed down and contracts have been signed for its decommissioning. South Korea currently has 24 reactors, which supply some 30% of its electricity, with nine more under construction or being planned.
Shin-Kori 5&6 schedule
The 1400MWe Shin-Kori 5&6 APR1400 reactors were originally due to be completed by March 2021 and March 2022. But completion dates are now set for October 2021 and October 2022.
Nuclear operator Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Co (Kepco), said: “Once we receive the official document from the government, we will notify contractors and work for the resumption of the construction.”
KHNP also plans to compensate local contractors for some KRW100bn in financial damage caused by the halt in construction. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said its task force would thoroughly check the safety of the units before work resumes, which could take a month.
Photo: How Shin Kori 5&6 will look (Credit: KHNP)