South Korea's Wolsong nuclear plant

South Korea's Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) said on 24 December it approved the permanent shutdown of unit 1 at the Wolsong NPP – South Korea’s 2nd-oldest reactor.

Nuclear operator Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) in 2018 approved shutdown of the unit earlier than planned, as part of the long-term scheme to phase out nuclear power.

NSSC said the move would not result in any risk to the public.

Wolsong 1, a 679MWe reactor, which began operation in 1983, has been offline since May 2017. In 2012, operations at the reactor were suspended after it reached its 30-year lifespan, but it was restarted after NSSC extended that lifespan by 10 years.

South Korea currently operates 25 nuclear reactors, which supply around a third of the country's electricity. Nine are offline for maintenance, according to KHNP. The Wolsong site in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, houses four 700MWe Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors.

The decision has met with protests from the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the labour union of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), which have launched legal action against NSSC and its members.

Choi Yeon-hye, leader of the LDP’s Special Committee against Nuclear Phase-Out Policies, said on 26 December that she will request the prosecution to investigate the NSSC and its members “for abusing their authority and breaching trust” and would file a request for a provisional order with the court to halt the commission’s decision.

The labour union of KHNP is also moving to apply for a provisional court order to halt the commission’s decision, noting that the Board of Audit and Inspection was investigating an allegation that KHNP had deliberately reduced the economic feasibility of Wolsong 1.