Editorial on South Korean Nuclear Waste Management

On May 25, the South Korean government gave early notice of its basic plan for handling high-level radioactive waste. The plan is to build the underground research facility, the interim storage facility and the permanent disposal facility on the same land. The interim facility will be used for the next 40-50 years until a permanent facility is constructed. Over the next 12 years, the site is to be acquired, with facilities built in stages until the permanent disposal facility opens in 2053.

In June 2015, the Public Engagement Commission on Spent Nuclear Fuel Management advised the government to acquire land for these facilities by 2020, and the delayed timeframe is the most striking feature of the government’s plan.
The most critical debate at present is what to do about the temporary dry storage facilities at each nuclear reactor complex, which are currently holding spent nuclear fuel but will soon run out of space. According to this plan, the government will build short-term storage facilities at each reactor complex. Considering that locals are already strongly opposed to these kinds of storage facilities, there are likely to be numerous conflicts and interruptions as the government pushes forward with the plan.

The temporary storage facilities for spent fuel at South Korea’s nuclear reactor complexes will reach the saturation point starting with Wolseong in 2019, followed by Gori and Yonggwang in 2024, Uljin in 2037 and Shin-Wolseong in 2038. The government says that it will build short-term dry storage facilities inside each reactor “if it is unavoidable” – meaning that this is the default plan.

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The Hankyoreh, as posted on : May.26,2016 17:29 KST, as posted at http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/745557.html

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