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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

South Korea’s President Park under pressure from nuclear weapons lobby

Pressure For South Korea To ‘Go Nuclear’ For Defense Against North’s Arsenal, Forbes, Donald Kirk , CONTRIBUTOR , 4 Feb 16 

North Korea’s success in conducting a fourth nuclear test has ignited calls for South Korea also to produce nuclear warheads as a “defensive” measure that could heighten the balance of terror that already threatens the Korean peninsula.

South Korean nuclear physicists and engineers have been tinkering with developing nuclear warheads since 1970 but have been frustrated by U.S. insistence that the South abide by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which the South signed under U.S. pressure in 1975.  The most they can do, under a deal reached with the U.S. last year, is to enrich uranium up to 20% — way above the 4% level for nuclear energy but far below the level for nuclear warheads……..

Calls for South Korea to develop a nuclear arsenal are heard in public, in the media and in political gatherings. The conservative Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s biggest-selling newspaper, articulated the argument in an editorial reflecting the widespread view that China will do nothing to stop North Korea from exploding more warheads and firing more missiles – and that sanctions against the North will be weak and ineffective……..

At the same time, South Korea would have to abrogate the agreement signed by both Koreas in 1991 for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula – a deal that the North violated from the outset.

‘The U.S. has passed the buck for taming North Korea to China,’ said Chosun Ilbo. “China is doing nothing. Seoul now faces a real need for public discussion of the development of its own nuclear weapons.”

GlobalSecurity.org, a website that specializes in such issues, traced South Korea’s recurring interest in developing its own nukes back to the presidency of Park Chung-hee, father of the current president, Park Geun-hye……..

The current President Park has said her government will abide by the 1991 denuclearization agreement, but she faces rising demands at least for a review of longstanding policy……http://www.forbes.com/sites/donaldkirk/2016/02/04/pressure-mounts-in-south-korea-for-its-own-nukes-to-combat-north-koreas-nuclear-arsenal/#3e42677c345f

February 5, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Simulated pre-emptive nuclear strike on North Korea in the planning?

exclamation-Flag-USAflag-S-KoreaUS and South Korea plan simulated nuclear strike on North Korea http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/12099482/US-and-South-Korea-plan-simulated-nuclear-strike-on-North-Korea.htmlUpdated plans would help them prepare their defenses against a potential nuclear strike from Pyongyang By Julian Ryall, Tokyo.  14 Jan 2016

 South Korea and the US are considering a military exercise that would simulate a pre-emptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities.

In November, the two governments agreed upon an updated set of plans to defend South Korea from missile, nuclear, chemical and biological threats. Known as the 4D Operational Concept, the plans are designed to detect, disrupt, destroy and defend the South from threats posed by the North.

The additional capability would be on top of the military hardware that South Korea has asked its closest security partner to provide.

In the wake of Pyongyang’s fourth underground nuclear test on January 6, however, Seoul and Washington are examining the possibility of conducting manoeuvers to extend the reach of the plan, the Chosun Ilbo reported on Thursday. The two countries are discussing ways to reflect parts of the 4D concept during the joint annual exercises in March and then to develop it as a full scale operational system”, an official of the defence ministry in Seoul told the newspaper.

Analysts say the two governments – along with others in the region – will have drawn up contingency plans for a number of possible scenarios on the Korean peninsula, including indications of an imminent nuclear strike, an invasion of the South with conventional forces or the collapse of Kim Jong-un’s regime.

One situation that military planners are particularly concerned about would be the current regime imploding but a number of factions – potentially armed with nuclear or other non-conventional weapons – jostling for power.

“North Korean assets that are capable of waging nuclear war will obviously be of the highest priority”, Lance Gatling, a defence analyst and president of Nexial Research Inc., told the Telegraph.

“These will be the mobile launch tractors that the North has for its tactical medium-range ballistic missiles, which can reach targets in South Korea and Japan”, he said.

“They will also be targeting the openings to underground facilities where weapons are stored in preparation for launch, although it can be very difficult to find all these sites”.

The US has said it will “not accept North Korea as a nuclear armed state”.

Pyongyang has in the past condemned joint US-South Korean military exercises as provocation and preparations for an invasion of the North. It is likely to react angrily to suggestions that its perceived enemies are preparing a first-strike capability.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Propaganda war between the two Koreas

flag-N-Koreaflag-S-KoreaKoreas Ramp Up Psychological Warfare After Nuclear Test VOA News, Brian Padden January 14, 2016 SEOUL—North Korea’s fourth nuclear test earlier this month ended a short period of inter-Korean cooperation and restarted the Cold War standoff between Seoul and Pyongyang.

While avoiding direct military confrontation that could easily escalate into a hot war, both North and South have resumed psychological war games and tactical maneuvers to demonstrate military readiness and resolve.

On Wednesday a suspected North Korean drone was sighted crossing the inter-Korean demilitarized zone. South Korean forces responded by firing about 20 machine gun rounds at the unidentified flying object but apparently did not hit it.

“Our military fired warning shots after broadcasting a warning. Then it returned to the northern side of the border right away,” said Jeon Ha-gyu, the head of public affairs for the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea’s armed forces.

North Korean propaganda

There have also been reports this week of pro-North Korean leaflets scattered throughout Seoul and its suburban areas. South Korea’s military suspects the propaganda leaflets were sent from the North by hot air balloons.

“North Korea was seen scattering leaflets from the northern area yesterday afternoon and early this morning,” Jeon said Wednesday. …….

Defense officials from China and South Korea are scheduled to meet Friday in Seoul to discuss the increasingly tense security situation on the Korean peninsula. http://www.voanews.com/content/koreas-ramp-up-psychological-warfare-after-nuclear-test/3145316.html

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, psychology and culture, South Korea | Leave a comment

Highest alert level for US military in South Korea

Policeman USANorth Korea: US forces in South put on highest level of alert; allies discuss ‘strategic assets’ , ABC News, 11 Jan 16 

Key points:

  • Media reports say a US aircraft carrier, B-2 bombers, submarines and F-22 fighters being considered for deployment to South
  • Inter-Korean Kaesong industrial park restrictions to increase on Tuesday
  • South Korea and Japan used a military hotline for the first time after North’s test
  • North’s state media says Kim Jong-un congratulated nuclear scientists
United States forces in South Korea have been put on their highest level of alert in case of any provocation from North Korea following Pyongyang’s nuclear test last week.The commander of combined forces, Curtis Scaparrotti, made the order during a visit to the Osan Air Base which is operated jointly by the US and South Korea, a United States Forces Korea (USFK) official said.

The US and its ally South Korea are in talks to send further strategic assets to the Korean peninsula, a day after a US B-52 bomber flew over the South in response to the test…..

Under the US-South Korea military alliance, there are nearly 30,000 US troops permanently stationed in South Korea, which is also protected by the US “nuclear umbrella”. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-11/us-troops-in-south-korea-on-high-alert-after-north-nuclear-test/7081296

January 12, 2016 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Intense unpopularity of nuclear industry in South Korea

About 11,000 county residents participated in the referendum. Of them, nearly 92 percent voted against a nuclear power plant.
flag-S-KoreaBitter Debate Over Nuclear Power Simmers in Rural South Korea, NYT By  JAN. 5, 2016“……… in 2010, the 399 mostly older people who made up the population of three villages agreed to give up their land and their centuries-old way of life to make room for something few other places wanted: a nuclear power plant.

That act plunged the surrounding Yeongdeok County into a bitter debate over whether the plant would be a savior or a death knell. The clash also revealed the depth of despair in South Korea’s increasingly empty rural communities, as well as growing misgivings about the country’s heavy dependence on nuclear power…….

villagers like Shin Wang-ki, 56, who grows pears, apples and peaches and believed that a plant would mean the end to a longstanding and cherished way of life.

“No way! Who’s going to buy fruits or crabs from an area near a nuclear power plant?” he said. “I inherited a clean land from my ancestors and want to leave it untainted for my children.”……..

In 2012, South Korea selected Yeongdeok and Samcheok, a coastal city to the north, as sites for new reactors.

Yet by then, skepticism — and anxiety — was spreading. First came the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. Then came another shock: Reports that emerged after a series of scandals revealed that nuclear power plants across South Korea had been using parts whose safety test results were faked.

Last year, a new mayor in Samcheok called a referendum in which residents voted against the decision made under the previous mayor. When the mayor of Yeongdeok refused to do likewise, residents opposed to the plant began organizing and outside activists poured in. They called a referendum on their own in November.

The government and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company, the country’s operator of nuclear power plants, urged residents not to take part in the referendum, which they called illegal because a state project was not subject to a county-level plebiscite. They also accused the outsiders of bringing antinuclear activism here to impede an important national project. Antinuclear villagers went on hunger strikes, accusing Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power executives of bribing older villagers with watermelons and other gifts.

“People yelled at each other,” said Kwon Tae-hwan, who runs a local Internet news site. “They waged a war of banners, every single back alley strung with rival placards.”

About 11,000 county residents participated in the referendum. Of them, nearly 92 percent voted against a nuclear power plant.

Antinuclear activists claimed victory, while the government dismissed the result and reconfirmed its plan to build a plant here.The civil disobedience in Yeongdeok represented only one of the many challenges South Korea’s nuclear power industry faced, problems it never had to confront when the first reactor went into operation in 1978 under an authoritarian government. In June, a government committee warned that beginning in 2019, old plants would run out of storage space for high-level radioactive wastes. The country urgently needed to build a new, central repository for such wastes, it said.

But the government could not even start looking. Residents of Miryang, a village in the southeast, have recently staged prolonged protests, including a self-immolation, to oppose a far smaller potential hazard: high-voltage transmission towers to carry electricity from a distant nuclear plant…….Residents on both sides of the nuclear question are waiting for parliamentary elections in April, when candidates from Yeongdeok will be asked to take sides.

“Among people here, what the government said used to be the law and truth,” said Kim Eok-nam, 47, who believed his dream of marketing organic farm produce would evaporate with the arrival of a nuclear plant. “But over this nuclear power project, we will show we are no rural pushover.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/06/world/asia/south-korea-nuclear-power.html?_r=0

January 6, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Korea | Leave a comment

Radioactivity in seafoods, especially from Russia, found in South Korea

Study finds 5.3% of domestic and Russian seafood contains radioactive material http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/723574.html  By Kim Young-dong, staff reporter Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr

radiation-in-sea--food-chaiflag-S-KoreaDec.26,2015 Highest rates of Ce-137 detected in Russian cod, though overall rate for domestic and imported seafood actually down 1.4% from last year

Radioactive material was discovered at detectable levels in domestic and Russian seafood products, a recent study confirms.

The news comes amid growing concerns about radiation contamination in seafood products entering the country since the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. In response, environmental groups are calling for more intensive inspections of seafood for radioactivity.

The findings were announced on Dec. 23 after a study by three groups: the Institute for Environment & Community Development Studies (IECDS), the Korea Radiation Watch Center, and the Gwangju chapter of the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement. Analysis of 150 samples of mackerel, pollock, cod, kelp, and sea mustard taken from discount stores and markets in Seoul, Busan, and Gwangju between March and November showed the presence of radioactive cesium-137 in eight of them, or 5.3%.

Cesium-137 is considered one of the chief examples of a radioactive isotope detected in the process of artificial nuclear fission, with an acceptable standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The isotope was found in samples of pollock and cod from Russia and domestic mackerel and kelp at levels of 0.37 to 1.09 becquerels per kilogram. The highest rate of detection was for Russian cod at 13%, followed by Russian pollock at 11.5%, Korean kelp at 7.7%, and Korean mackerel at 3.3%.

By place of origin, Russian products showed the highest detection rate at 13.3% (six out of 45 samples), compared to a 3.2% rate for domestic products (two out of 63 samples). No radioactive material was found in other imported seafood.

The overall Ce-137 detection rate for domestic and imported seafood was down slightly from a similar survey conducted last year, falling from 6.7% to 5.3%. But the rate for Russian products showed a slight increase from 13% last year to 13.3% in 2015.

“The radioactive material detection rate for Russian products was quite high. We need greater monitoring and more stringent standards,” said IECDS researcher Min Eun-ju. “We also need to figure out the cause behind the radioactive material detected in Korean sea grasses and take appropriate steps,” Min added.

Min also weighed in on the South Korean government’s current plans to consider lifting import bans on seafood from eight Japanese prefectures. “If that happens, there will be no way to stop the import of seafood contaminated with radioactivity. We should be beefing up our standards, not loosening them, and we should be responding forcefully to the Japanese government’s complaint with the World Trade Organization,” she said.

Ce-137 has a half-life of over thirty years and is known to cause radiation exposure within the body as it accumulates in muscles and subcutaneous fat. The details of its effects on the human body from exposure through accumulation of small amounts remain unknown. By Kim Young-dong, staff reporter Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

December 28, 2015 Posted by | oceans, South Korea | Leave a comment

Talks between officials of North Korea and South Korea

North Korea, South Korea Hold Rare Talks Following Clashes, IBT, By on November 26 2015 North Korean and South Korean officials met in a demilitarized village on the border Thursday, to hold talks aimed at initiating sustainable communication between the two countries, according to reports. The rare meeting is the first intergovernmental interaction since August when the two sides met to defuse a crisis that had pushed them to the brink of an armed conflict.

Held in the border village of Panmunjom, about 34 miles north of Seoul, the meeting saw the two sides ironing out a framework to resume high-level talks, although they did not arrive at a precise timeline. Both countries signed a joint agreement agreeing on details such as who would represent their respective governments and the issues that would be on the agenda…….

Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor of North Korean studies at Korea University, said, according to Yonhap News Agency: “The North will likely call on Seoul to lift its sanctions against the North and to reopen the Kumgang tour program. The South is expected to raise the issue of family reunions.”

In October, the two Koreas conducted reunion of families, separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, as part of a deal signed in August. South Korea seeks to regularize the reunions while the cash-strapped North Korea has demanded that Seoul allow South Korean tour groups to its scenic Mount Kumgang resort.

Earlier in November, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said she was open to a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if the latter agreed to give up nuclear weapons and focus sincerely on inter-Korean ties. http://www.ibtimes.com/north-korea-south-korea-hold-rare-talks-following-clashes-2201165

November 27, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit North Korea – hope of diplomatic progress?

Hopes rise of nuclear breakthrough as UN chief visits North Korea, The Scotsman, 17 Nov 15  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit Pyongyang this week for a possible meeting with leader Kim Jong Un.

The trip would come six months after Pyongyang at the last minute cancelled an invitation for Mr Ban to visit an inter-Korean factory park in the North Korean city of Kaesong. Mr Ban has said North Korea gave no reason for the cancellation. He had not planned to visit Pyongyang at that time.

South Korean news agency Yonhap cited an unidentified source in the UN when it reported Mr Ban’s Pyongyang trip. It gave no details on the purpose of the trip or the day it would take place.

If the trip does take place, Mr Ban would be the first UN head to visit North Korea since Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993. Yonhap, quoting a UN source, said Mr Ban is expected to meet Mr Kim because it is unlikely for the secretary-general to visit a UN member state without meeting the country’s leader.

  The source was quoted as saying Mr Ban’s trip could serve as a breakthrough in the stand-off over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and strained ties between the two Koreas. Mr Ban was South Korea’s foreign minister before taking up the top UN job……..http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/hopes-rise-of-nuclear-breakthrough-as-un-chief-visits-north-korea-1-3949986

November 18, 2015 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Despite safety problems, South Korea obsessed with plan for massive nuclear station

South Korea’s Nuclear Obsession The fixation on nuclear power ignores Fukushima and the global trend towards renewables. The Diplomat  By Daul Jang October 22, 2015 Five Greenpeace activists last week entered the security zone of the Kori Nuclear Power Plant. Arriving via a black inflatable boat, they climbed out and scampered up a rocky slope, unfurling a bright yellow banner in front of the plant’s fence. For 40 minutes they stood their ground as guards looked on, sirens blazed, and warnings from the Coast Guard were broadcast over the loud speaker.

In South Korea, the world’s fourth largest producer of nuclear power, the government is planning to expand the Kori site. With six reactors online, two waiting for operating license approval, and an additional two planned, it will bring the total number to ten reactors by 2022. Yet with 3.4 million people living within the 30 km zone, major companies such as Hyundai Motors located nearby, and popular Haeundae beach also in the vicinity, it reveals a government in denial of the threat to its people and nation.

Kori  station Korea

But for the government and the industry, the argument is that Korea needs nuclear power. But the reality is that industrial economies, both established and rapidly developing nations, are investing in renewables because they are reliable, affordable, quick to install, safe, and are the best generating technology to reduce carbon emissions. In 2014, Germany, Japan, China, India, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and the Netherlands collectively generated more electricity from renewables (excluding large-scale hydro) than from nuclear power.

Even before the tragic Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011, the global nuclear industry was in decline. ……..

The meltdown of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima dramatically exposed the reality that multiple reactors at a nuclear power plant site equal catastrophic failure. …….

The majority of South Korean people, like the people of Japan, have understood the lessons of Fukushima – that nuclear power is a technology with unacceptable risks. In contrast, both the Abe government in Japan and the administration of Park Geun-hye in South Korea are deliberately ignoring the lessons of Fukushima. It took the Fukushima Daiichi accident to change the mind of one national leader. South Korea should not have to wait for an accident at Kori to have a similar effect.

Daul Jang is the Project Leader for the Climate and Energy Campaign at Greenpeace East Asia in Seoul. http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/south-koreas-nuclear-obsession/

 

October 23, 2015 Posted by | safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

Expansion of South Korea’s massive Kori Nuclear Power Plant near 3.4 million people – an insane plan

exclamation-Smflag-S-KoreaThe insane plan to expand the world’s biggest nuclear plant http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/nuclear-kori-korea-protest-busan/blog/54400/ [excellent photos]  by Daul Jang – 13 October, 2015  Over 3 million people live within 30 km of what is set to become the largest nuclear power plant in South Korea and the world. So why is the government expanding nuclear and locking out safe, clean renewables?

Kori  station Korea

Two inflatables with ten courageous and committed activists from around the world departed this morning to protest the expansion of the Kori Nuclear Power Plant, near Busan. They are taking action to highlight the risk of nuclear power and the urgent need to transition to clean, safe renewables.

The situation at Kori is insane, and it’s only getting worse. Here’s why the need for action is so urgent.

1. When the next unit is expected to go online next month, it will become the world’s largest nuclear power plant in terms of installed capacity (6860MW) with 7 reactors in operation.

2. What is most disturbing is that there are around 3.4 million people living within the 30km zone around the plant. This compares to 160,000 in the case of Fukushima.

3. When the two planned reactors start operation by 2020, it will become the only nuclear power plant with 10 reactors and more than 10,000 MW in the world.

4. More reactors = more risk. One of the critical lessons from the disastrous Fukushima disaster is that multiple reactors means increased risk.

5. Since beginning operation in 1978, the plant has continuously encountered problems including malfunctions, lack of safety regulations and poor maintenance. In February 2012 a complete station blackout was deliberately concealed by the high level decision makers at the Kori plant, only to be reported to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSCC), South Korea’s regulatory body, a month later.

We aim to expose the intolerable risk of adding two more reactors to the world’s largest nuclear power plant and the threat it poses to the general public and the citizens of Busan. The future is renewables. We’ve already helped convince one big company in South Korea to switch to 100% renewable energy – so what is the South Korean government waiting for? Out with the old, and in with the new!

It’s time to switch on renewables and abandon costly, dangerous nuclear.

Daul Jang is the Project Leader for the Climate and Energy Campaign at Greenpeace East Asia in Seoul.

October 14, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Korea | Leave a comment

Increasing public opposition to South Korean govt’s nuclear power policy

Protest-No!flag-S-KoreaThe Repercussions of South Korea’s Pro-Nuclear Energy Policy A long-term policy is running into increasing domestic opposition, The Diplomat,  By Se Young Jang,  8 Oct 15 Se Young Jang is an associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Studies, Harvard Kennedy School, and a non-resident Kelly fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS.

October 08, 2015 South Korea has been trying to develop its nuclear energy industry over half a century. Insufficient energy sources, increasing domestic energy consumption, and rising oil prices in the 1970s were significant drivers that turned South Korea into a nuclear energy producer. Today, the country runs 24 nuclear reactors in four nuclear power plant sites, the second highest number of reactors among Asian countries after Japan and fifth highest in the world. Despite the contribution of nuclear energy to the South Korean economy, however, the country is currently facing mounting domestic concerns over its pro-nuclear energy policy.

In a local referendum held in October 2014, an overwhelming majority of the residents in Samcheok, a small coastal city in Gangwon province, rejected the South Korean government’s plan to build a nuclear power plant in the city. Since Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima and South Korea’s 2013 scandals over fake safety certificates for nuclear equipment, South Koreans have begun to take nuclear safety issues more seriously, which in turn has prompted a growing anti-nuclear power sentiment. A series of scandals and accidents in South Korea’s nuclear power plants have focused public attention on the effects of radioactive materials on the health of the residents who live near the country’s four nuclear power plants. Last year, a South Korean courtruled that the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., a state-run nuclear power plant operator, was responsible for the thyroid cancer suffered by a plaintiff, who has lived 7.7 km away from the Kori nuclear power plant over the past 20 years. Since then, more than 500 thyroid cancer patients living close to the nuclear power plants in South Korea have been preparing a joint legal action against the company.

Notwithstanding the anti-nuclear sentiment, nuclear energy as a share of total electricity generated increased to about 30 percent in 2014, and the South Korean government is currently constructing four new nuclear reactors with eight more being planned. Standing firm on its nuclear power plant projects, the South Korean government regarded the Samcheok referendum as not legally binding, and this position remains unchanged. Under the Second Basic National Energy Plan for 2015-2035, South Korea appear to have few options but to stick to its original plan of building more nuclear power plants, as the 2015-2035 energy plan was based on the assumption that it could not avoid raising its dependence on nuclear power.

Critics say that the government overestimated future electricity demand and underpriced electricity. According to the Sixth Basic Supply-Demand Plan for Electricity (2013-2027), South Korea will use more electricity per capita than the United States in 2024. The high population density in South Korea could translate into lower demand for electricity per capita. Moreover, estimates of electricity demand are based on cheap prices for electricity; the government calculated that the rate of increase in electricity prices in the coming years would be one third of the inflation rate. Some newspapers in South Korea report concerns about rising electricity bills as a result of a decreasing reliance on nuclear power. Still, it is interesting to note that 65.6 percent of respondents in a 2013 poll were willing to pay a higher electricity bill if it meant fewer nuclear power plants……….

Today, South Korea no longer seeks its own nuclear weapons, but Park Geun-hye still sees boosting nuclear energy industry as a great opportunity for the South Korean economy. Now a nuclear exporter, South Korea has concluded agreements with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates to construct one research reactor and four commercial reactors. …….

Korea’s success in the nuclear export market and geopolitical necessities notwithstanding, the current domestic situation is hardly favorable to the South Korean government. The 2013 scandal over hundreds of faulty components used in reactors is still unfolding. A parliamentary audit last year revealed that the temporary suspension of the operations of nuclear power plants after the scandal caused the loss of 10 trillion won (about $9.5 billion), and that some officials fired from the KEPCO E&C (Korea Electric Power Corporation Engineering and Construction) over the scandals were rehired. Worse, the result of the referendum in Samcheok is probably only the beginning of a series of hurdles which the South Korean government will have to overcome. More than half of the respondents in a recent poll conducted in Yeongdeok, in North Gyeongsang Province, which was also designated as a nuclear power plant site by the government in 2012 along with Samcheok, opposed the central government’s construction plan.

The consent of local residents will be even more important in the near future as South Korea faces a crisis over the storage of nuclear spent fuel. South Korea has nearly 9,000 tons of spent fuel stacked in temporary storage pools with about 750 tons added to the pools every year. They could reach maximum capacity by 2021. The government has been deliberating over several ways of storing spent fuel, including pyroprocessing and a medium-term solution using dry casks; but no matter what method South Korea chooses, the government will need to be able to persuade people living next to the facility, no easy task as Samcheok has demonstrated……….http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/the-repercussions-of-south-koreas-pro-nuclear-energy-policy/

October 9, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Korea | Leave a comment

EDITORIAL: Each Fukushima water leak weakens faith in Japan’s food safety

sept 7, 2015 iwakiWholesalers check fish at a market in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan’s dispute with South Korea over its import restrictions on Japanese seafood imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is now going to the World Trade Organization.

Following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, South Korea banned imports of some marine products caught in waters off Fukushima and seven other prefectures, mainly areas along the Pacific coast between Aomori and Chiba prefectures. Then in autumn 2013, Seoul expanded the scope of the ban to include all marine products from these prefectures.

The Japanese government responded to the move by criticizing the measure for “lacking a scientific basis.”

Tokyo has been demanding that the measure be withdrawn while cooperating with Seoul’s investigations. But the two countries have failed to resolve their disagreements, and Japan has asked the WTO to set up a dispute-settlement panel comprising experts from third countries to rule over South Korea’s import ban.

More than a dozen countries and areas have barred imports of all or part of Japanese-made foods, but the government has singled out South Korea because the country has expanded its restrictions.

The WTO tends to be regarded as dysfunctional because of the lack of progress in the global trade-liberalizing talks under its auspices. But the world trade watchdog has at least been performing its dispute-settling functions.

Japan has been making active use of the WTO’s ability to settle trade disputes.

Over the past several years, Tokyo has filed complaints with the WTO over China’s restrictions on exports of rare earth minerals and Ukraine’s emergency restrictions on automobile imports, for instance. These actions have produced certain positive results for Japan.

Japan’s diplomatic relations with South Korea remain strained over some long-standing territorial and history-related rows. But both countries should not allow these problems to affect the ways they deal with economic issues like trade disputes.

Tokyo and Seoul need to continue talks to seek an early solution to the dispute even while the WTO’s panel is hearing the case.

Four-and-a-half years after the accident, coastal areas of Fukushima Prefecture, where the disaster-stricken nuclear power plant is located, are still subject to restrictions on shipments of certain kinds of fish. Even for the fishes not covered, fishermen in these areas are allowed to catch and sell them only on a “trial basis.”

A system has been established to ensure that farm, forestry and fishery products made in areas directly affected by the disaster as well as surrounding regions are shipped only after they have passed the safety standards in radiation tests. But consumers have shown a tendency to avoid all food products from these areas.

In cases of fishery products, only small-scale fishing operations and limited sales of products have been conducted to gauge the reactions from consumers.

The South Korean government says it has expanded the import curbs in response to leaks of radiation-contaminated water from the Fukushima plant.

With the South Korean public deeply worried about food contaminated with radioactive materials, the step was aimed at preventing confusion among consumers in the country, according to Seoul.

The scope of the import restrictions and the means involved may be open to dispute. It should be noted, however, that in both South Korea and Japan, food safety from a scientific viewpoint doesn’t necessarily reassure consumers.

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has been plagued by leaks of polluted water. Local fishermen have lodged protests every time such an incident occurs.

It must not be forgotten that every leak of contaminated water makes consumers even more unwilling to put their faith in the safety of products from the areas.

The only way to restore the public’s trust in the safety of food is to ensure there will be no more leaks of contaminated water nor any exacerbation of the nuclear accident. The food trade dispute with South Korea should serve as a reminder of the absolute need to achieve these most basic nuclear safety goals.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201509070016

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Japan, South Korea | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive trash mounting in South Korea, with no solution in sight

At all of the sites visited, the author found local opinion leaders making clear their concerns about the safety of spent fuel management in addition to their concerns about the overall safety of nuclear power plant operations

As they grapple with safety concerns regarding nearby nuclear facilities, local residents typically lack unbiased information on the issues involved


flag-S-Korea
The Search for Interim Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage in South Korea,
Nautilus,   By Jungmin text-wise-owlKang 31 August 2015


I. Introduction

Plans call for a continued expansion in South Korea’s fleet of nuclear reactors, but at the same time, facilities for the temporary storage of spent fuel, mostly in at-reactor pools, continue to fill up. Negotiations between the nuclear industry and central government agencies on one side, and local host communities on the other, for siting of interim spent fuel storage facilities, let alone permanent waste disposal facilities, have been largely ineffective to date, due in large part to a combination of the tactics used by authorities in approaching local communities, and a lack of unbiased information about nuclear facilities on the part of local stakeholders. In the last few years, a new effort to engage host communities has been undertaken, and shows some promise, though much work remains before agreements on facility siting can be reached.

Nuclear Spent Fuel is Accumulating at Reactor Sites in South Korea

As of 2015 about 760 metric tons of spent fuel is discharged annually from 23 reactors in South Korea.[1] About half of this total comes from four CANDU heavy water reactors (HWRs) and the other half from 19 pressurized light-water reactors (PWRs).[2] As of the end of 2013, 6,541 tHM (tonnes heavy metal) in spent PWR fuel and 7,258 tHM in spent HWR fuel were stored in the spent fuel storage facilities at four different nuclear power plants clustered into four coastal sites: Hanul (Ulchin), Wolsong and Kori along the East coast and Hanbit (Yonggwang) on the West coast. Continue reading

September 4, 2015 Posted by | South Korea, wastes | Leave a comment

WTO delays panel decision on ROK

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The World Trade Organization has put off a decision on whether to set up a dispute settlement panel on South Korea’s import ban on Japanese fishery products, the Fisheries Agency said Monday.

At a meeting Monday, the WTO stopped short of making a decision as South Korea did not agree to the establishment of the panel. But the WTO is expected to approve the setting up of the panel as requested by Japan at its next meeting, on Sept. 28.

South Korea introduced the ban on some fishery products from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, in the wake of the reactor meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Source: Japan News

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002393276

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan, South Korea | , , | Leave a comment

Food Safety after Fukushima Disaster

On 21 May 2015, the Japanese government referred measures taken by the Korean government to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since Sept. 6 2013, the Korean government has restricted the import of Japanese fisheries products from eight prefectures including Fukushima, where a nuclear-power-plant disaster occurred in 2011.

According to the Korean government, import restrictions are indispensable for food safety reasons, while the Japanese government argues that its products are safe for humans to consume.

The Agreement of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) provides that members have the right to take SPS measures necessary for the protection of human, animal or plant life or health.

However, members must ensure that any SPS measure is applied only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, and is not maintained without sufficient scientific evidence, based on a risk assessment under the SPS Agreement (Art. 2).

Since the risk assessment under the SPS Agreement is “the evaluation of the potential for adverse effects on human or animal health arising from the presence of additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in food, beverages or feedstuffs,” (Annex A, para.4 emphasis added) risk assessments based on the minority scientific opinion can be used as justification for measures taken by South Korea, as long as there is any possibility of adverse effects on human health.

Most man-made radionuclides emitted from atomic energy incidents were classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2001.

The international standard recommended by the CODEX Alimentarius Commission is 1,000Bk/kg for cesium (Cs) 134/137, reflecting the maximum acceptable level for human health.

The Commission, however, proposed that radionuclides in foods should be maintained to a level that is “as low as reasonably achievable.”

According to the SPS Agreement, members may maintain SPS measures resulting in a higher level of protection than the relevant international standards, if there is a scientific justification, or a member determines to be appropriate in accordance with Article 5 (Art.3.3).

Regarding Cs 134/137 in foods, many members including South Korea (100Bq/kg), the European Union (100Bq/kg), Taiwan (370Bq/kg), China (90~800Bq/kg) and Japan (10~100Bq/kg) have, therefore, maintained higher levels of protection than recommended by CODEX.

Under Article 5.7 of the SPS Agreement, South Korea can take provisional measures to restrict the importation of the Japanese products, if relevant scientific evidence is insufficient.

Given the on-going nature and unprecedented magnitude of Fukushima disaster, it is doubtful whether Japan has provided South Korea with sufficient information regarding the actual conditions of radioactive contamination after the disaster and whether a complete risk assessment estimating the adverse effects of radionuclides on human health will be currently possible.

Since South Korea and Japan failed to settle the trade dispute through consultation, under the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, the dispute is due to be referred to the Panel.

During the Panel process, Japan must prove that there have been no more additional emissions of man-made radionuclides into the environment after the disaster, and provide the Panel with sufficient scientific evidence supporting the food safety of Japanese marine products.

Source: The Korea Times

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2015/08/123_185658.html

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Japan, South Korea | , | Leave a comment

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