South Korea has opened the first section of a $1.3bn (€1.1bn) radioactive waste repository in the southern city of Gyeongju. It has six silos that can hold some 100,000 drums of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste from NPPs, laboratories and hospitals. In August the first 16 drums of radioactive waste were placed in the repository and 896 drums have been placed so far.

The repository is 130 metres underground and connected to the surface by a 1,500-metre service tunnel. Operator, the Korea Radioactive Waste Agency (Korad) said the first six silos are expected to be filled in 10 years. When complete, the facility will be able to accommodate 800,000 drums. A second phase, for 125,000 drums, is scheduled for completion in 2019.

Site selection process for the KRW1,560bn ($1.5bn) facility began in 1986, eight years after the start up of South Korea’s first nuclear power reactor, Kori unit 1. Construction of the repository started in early 2006 and was completed in June 2014. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission gave approval last December for full operation at the facility’s first phase.