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Permanent Shutdown of Wolseong Nuclear Reactor Unit 1 Confirmed
Controversy Raging over Real Life Span
Permanent Shutdown of Wolseong Nuclear Reactor Unit 1 Confirmed
  • By Michael Herh
  • December 25, 2019, 10:02
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The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission has decided to close down Wolseong Nuclear Reactor Unit 1 in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province.

The permanent shutdown of Wolseong Nuclear Reactor Unit 1 in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province has been confirmed. Nuclear power experts criticized that the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission made a hasty conclusion to close down the reactor in compliance of the government’s nuclear phase-out policy even though the reactor was approved to run until 2022.

The commission decided to approve the shutdown of the reactor at a general meeting at KT Building in Gwanghwamun, Seoul on Dec. 24. The reactor was the second reactor in Korea to be permanently suspended following Kori Nuclear Reactor Unit 1. In October and November, commission members failed to reach a conclusion due to big differences in their opinions. But this time, five of the seven members agreed.

The commission decided to extend the life of Wolseong Nuclear Reactor Unit 1 in 2015. But an early shutdown decision in June 2018 has generated a great deal of pros and cons. At the Dec. 24 meeting, one group of members insisted that the commission instruct Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) Corp. to take measures in case the reactor is reactivated after a permanent suspension, another group suggested that the commission wait for the results of an audit on the economic value of the nuclear plant by the Board of Audit and Inspection. The third group said that the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission should limit its role to deliberation and decision-making. Controversy was stirred up over the 700 billion won additionally invested to maintain the reactor as well.

Wolseong Nuclear Reactor Unit 1, which began a commercial operation with its completion on April 22, 1983, received approval for an additional 10-year run by 2022. However, KHNP, the reactor operator, applied for the reactor’s early closure in 2018, citing its lack of economic feasibility.

Afterwards, the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) conducted an inspection into the reactor and submitted the results to the commission. KHNP applied for the permanent suspension of the reactor in February of this year. However, the Board of Audit and Inspection is probing whether an economic feasibility study on the reactor was properly conducted.