Michael Shellenberger, a prominent environmentalist who has stressed the safety, economical efficiency and excellence of South Korea’s nuclear energy technology, said on October 12, “Kenya and Britain that have sought to import South Korea’s nuclear energy technology have decided to reconsider the import after the South Korean government has vowed to phase out the country’s dependence on nuclear power.”
During a press conference held at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry building in Jung-gu, Seoul, on the same day, Shellenberger, president of the US NGO Environmental Progress, said, “I met senior officials from the Kenyan and the British governments last week and I have it straight from them. Kenya is considering importation of nuclear power technology from Russia, (instead of South Korea), and Britain also said it would reconsider its decision.”
Kenya and Britain have sought to introduce South Korea’s world-class nuclear energy technology and expertise in nuclear power plant construction and operation from long experience. Kenya, which is to build new nuclear power plants with an electricity generating capacity at 4,000 megawatts (MW) by 2033, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for partnership in the nuclear power sector with South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in September last year as part of its plans to import the South Korean nuclear energy technology. In addition, Britain has recently decided to adopt the Korean-designed Advanced Pressurized Reactor-1400 (APR-1400) after weighing China and South Korea as a partner for its nuclear reactor construction projects worth 21 trillion won (US$18.52 billion). However, Shellenberger claims that the South Korean government’s latest decision can hurt the country's push to expand into the global atomic power generation market.
He said, “After the South Korean government has scrapped plans for new nuclear power plants and pledged to end its reliance on nuclear power, it has lost its confidence in nuclear energy technology and exportability. If the South Korean president says a Hyundai Motor car is dangerous, nobody will buy a Hyundai Motor car.”
On the 11th, the country’s energy and trade minister, Paik Won-gyu, said, “The government‘s nuclear phase-out policy is due to seismic hazards. In this regard, Shellenberger said, “The 2016 Gyeongju earthquake was 350,000 times weaker than the earthquake that hit Tohoku, Japan, in 2011. The government should not mislead the people with such a nonsense.”
He also stressed that the Moon Jae-in government’s nuclear phase-out policy contradicts with its major goal of job creation. He said, “When the country replaces nuclear power with liquefied natural gas (LNG) power generation, costs of the replacement and LNG importation will reach US$200 to 400 billion (226.8 trillion won to 453.6 trillion won) a year. The figure is equivalent to creating 343,000 jobs with an annual salary of 300 million won (US$29,125).”
On the same day, Shellenberger held a press conference for citizens participating in the publicizing committee to discuss the fate of Shin Kori Nos. 5 and 6 in Ulsan. He said, “South Korea has the safest and most cost-effective nuclear power programs in the world. South Korea is the only country that can compete with China and Russia in nuclear reactor construction. The country’s nuclear energy generation programs are a great hope for not only South Korea but also peace, prosperity and environment conservation of the whole of mankind. He also urged citizens participating in the public discussion committee for Shin Kori Nos. 5 and 6, “Please make the right decision based on scientific facts.”
Shellenberger is an environmental policy expert who was named as a "Hero of the Environment" by Time magazine in 2008. He is a pro-nuclear environmentalist who supports the ecologically friendly features and safety of nuclear energy. He has continuously expressed concerns over South Korea’s nuclear phase-out policy.