S. Korea faces strong opposition to nuclear power SEJONG, June 15 (Yonhap) — The South Korean government is facing a renewed opposition against nuclear power plants sparked by the recent tragic sinking a passenger ferry while the need for what is considered the cheapest source of power is growing, government officials said Sunday.
The opposition against nuclear power plants gained a new momentum on raised public awareness for safety following the April 16 sinking of the passenger ferry, Sewol, in which 292 people have been confirmed dead with 12 still unaccounted for.
Those who have long opposed nuclear power are again pointing their fingers at nuclear power plants as the most hazardous facilities, which, they claim, could cause a far greater and more devastating tragedy than the ferry sinking should there be any accident, according to the government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Such a sentiment was also seen in recent remarks by Rep. Park Young-sun, floor leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, who said, “Nuclear power plants are now said to be the largest threat to safety in our society after the sinking of the Sewol.”
Already, environmental groups are demanding the government decommission a nuclear reactor at Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant, which is currently undergoing review for a possible extension of its lifespan. The initial 30-year lifespan of the reactor located some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul expired in November 2012……
China agrees North Korea’s nuclear activities a serious threat, says South Mon May 26, 2014 SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea and China agreed on Monday that recent nuclear activity by North Korea posed a serious threat to the peace and stability of the region and Pyongyang must not conduct a nuclear test, Seoul said after a meeting of their top diplomats.
Renewed activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site has indicated Pyongyang may be preparing a fourth nuclear test in contravention of U.N. sanctions.
Analysis have suggested the North may be close to miniaturising a nuclear warhead to mount on a missile, alarming regional powers that have for two decades tried to rein in Pyongyang’s atomic programme.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his South Korea counterpart Yun Byung-se to discuss the North’s nuclear programme, as well as an upcoming visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul this year, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.
“The two ministers agreed to step up cooperation based on the united position that they object to the North’s nuclear test and that recent nuclear activities by the North pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region,” the ministry said.
China, North Korea’s lone major ally, is usually very guarded in its opinion on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, usually expressing its desire for a nuclear-free “Korean peninsula” and careful not to be seen to be taking sides…….http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKBN0E61LJ20140526
South Korea proposes aid for North if it halts nuclear arms programme First Post, Mar 29, 2014 SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed a broad range of economic aid for impoverished North Korea on Friday if it agrees to give up its nuclear programme. It was not immediately clear how the North would respond to the proposal, made in a speech in Dresden, Germany, but it has repeatedly rejected the idea of abandoning its nuclear programme, which it says is a necessary deterrent against U.S. hostility.
S. Korea scales back nuclear expansion plans The West Australian, 11 Dec 13, Seoul (AFP) – South Korea is scaling back its commitment to nuclear energy after safety concerns prompted a series of reactor shutdowns, officials said Tuesday……The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it has accepted recommendations from a government advisory group in September to scale back the nuclear expansion plans…..
Safety concerns that were already high in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis in Japan have been heightened by revelations of widespread corruption and faulty equipment.
Nuclear reactors have been abruptly shut down 128 times over the past decade because of malfunctioning parts, officials admitted in October. Public prosecutors have charged about 100 people after discovering that documents relating to some parts in 20 working reactors, and eight under construction, had been forged…….http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/world/a/20257649/s-korea-scales-back-nuclear-expansion-plans/
S.Korea nuclear reactor hit by automatic shutdown; six units now off First Post World, 29 Nov 13, SEOUL (Reuters) – A “safety-related action” automatically shut down one of its 23 nuclear reactors on Thursday, South Korea’s nuclear operator said, bringing the tally of those closed to six and hiking chances of possible power blackouts this winter……. “We are now looking into the cause of the shutdown and it is not yet clear when the reactor will restart,” said a spokesman at operator Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power. Operation of the 587-megawatt Kori No. 1 reactor, over 300 km southeast of Seoul, was suspended early on Thursday morning. The reactor, which started operation in 1978, had recently returned from nearly 180 days of scheduled maintenance through October 5, according to KHNP’s website. (www.khnp.co.kr). The unit’s license to operate was extended another 10 years in end-2007, another KHNP spokesman noted……
Scandal-hit Korean group makes UK nuclear bid, Ft.com, 19 Nov 13 By Guy ChazanA Korean nuclear company that has been rocked by a domestic safety scandal is close to becoming a major investor in the UK – a development that could hit public confidence in the country’s much-vaunted nuclear renaissance. Korea Electric Power, or Kepco, is in talks to join the NuGen consortium, which has an option to build a reactor near Sellafield in Cumbria……
Some UK industry figures have expressed concern.
“Why would you want anyone with that kind of safety record?” said one person with knowledge of the NuGen negotiations. He said it risked “damaging the public perception of nuclear in the UK”.
But such concerns are likely to grow as more and more overseas state-owned groups enter the British marketplace. “If major pieces of UK energy infrastructure – not just nuclear – are owned by investors from afar, it’s going to give rise to a level of public disquiet that we haven’t seen so far,” said Nick Pidgeon, head of the Understanding Risk Research Group at Cardiff University.
The NuGen development highlights how reliant the UK is on foreign investors for its nuclear renaissance. Continue reading
“In 26 years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Ms. Choi added, standing by tanks where live, locally bred flatfish and Russian-imported king crabs were displayed.
Ms. Choi’s predicament provides a taste of the psychological impact of Japan’s nuclear crisis on South Korea’s seafood industry. Sales of marine products have plummeted in recent months as three out of every four Koreans say they have cut back on fish consumption following leaks of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.
The fears come despite Seoul imposing some of the toughest restrictions on seafood imports from Japan. Since September, it has blocked all fishery imports from eight prefectures surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi plant, on Japan’s Pacific coast.
Around 80% of seafood consumed in South Korea is caught locally, where there is no evidence of any impact from the nuclear disaster. Despite the facts, many Koreans are shunning seafood……..http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303289904579196893701088208
Nuclear power could be more costly than thought, The Hankyorheh, S. Korea, : Nov.12,2013 Analysis shows that if full range of costs is factored in, nuclear energy is not as low-cost an option as the gov’t says By Hwangbo Yeon, staff reporter
A newreport suggests that nuclear power would lose its price competitiveness if taxes on power sources like coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) were collected more fairly and costs of transmission grid construction and social risks were assessed.
If such a price structure is realized, it stands to undermine claims of the superior cost-effectiveness of nuclear power, which the government has used to argue for its expansion.
The report on a price recalculation scenario for different power generation facilities was presented at a recent Power Industry Research Association seminar by Hanbat National University professor Cho Young-tak…….
The cost-effectiveness reversal becomes even more conspicuous when nuclear power accident risk costs and price variations from the introduction of shale gas are also factored in. The price of nuclear power rises from as low as 95 won to as much as 143 won when conditions such as damage payment costs (based on the compensation levels for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Japan) and a 25% drop in gas import costs due to shale gas are taken into account. This range is well ahead of the 88-102 won for coal and 92-121 won for LNG.
Scandal may cause South Korea to abandon nuclear power http://www.salon.com/2013/10/28/scandal_may_cause_south_korea_to_abandon_nuclear_power/singleton/ BY LINDSAY ABRAMS Amid a safety scandal in which 100 people have been indicted for corruption and that has shut down three of the country’s 23 nuclear generators, South Korea is reconsidering its reliance on nuclear power, Reuters reports. The shift from nuclear, which currently provides nearly a third of the country’s power while only accounting for about 3-4 percent of its energy costs, could cost tens of billions of dollars a year in imports of liquified natural gas, oil or coal.
At a congressional hearing today, politicians estimated that the scandals have already cost the country’s nuclear operator $2.8 billion. From Reuters: The chaos in the industry comes as a government working group recommended on October 13 a cut in South Korea’s reliance on nuclear power, pointing to a drop in public confidence in safety that has been exacerbated by Japan’s Fukushima disaster.
The study recommended nuclear power capacity be kept between 22 and 29 percent of the total by 2035, well below existing plans to grow the sector to 41 percent in less than 20 years.
The government will hold public hearings to decide whether to back the recommendation before finalizing its energy policy in December.
Consumers may be asked to shoulder much of the estimated fivefold increase in energy costs by 2030, according to local media reports — or just start using less electricity.
Law Professor: Damage from Fukushima radiation may be “much larger” than we expect http://enenews.com/law-professor-damage-from-fukushima-radiation-may-be-much-larger-than-we-expect
Title: Korea may sue Japan for mishandling leakss
Source: Korea Times
Author: Kim Tae-jong
Date: Sept. 14, 2013
The government will be able to take legal action against Japanese authorities if the latter continues to leak radioactive water into the ocean which could affect marine life in Korean seas, experts said, Tuesday. [...]
“Our government can demand Japan provide us with timely and detailed information about water leaks from the nuclear power plant, and also to stop leaking radioactive water,” said Kim Young-sok, a law school professor at Ewha Womans University. “It is necessary to take every possible precautionary action, as radiation damage can be irreversible and may be much larger than we expect.” [...]
“This can be the violation of International Maritime Law (IML),” he said. “Even merchants at local fish markets who have seen a drastic drop in sales due to the perceived health risks from fishery products can be compensated if they can prove they have been affected.” [...]
It is obvious that Korea will be affected by the water leak from the tsunami-hit power plant, although there are disputes on the level of the health risk.
The Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, affiliated with the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, has recently announced that the radioactive water could affect marine life in Korean seas as early as next year.
S. KOREA EX-VICE MINISTER CHARGED IN NUCLEAR GRAFT PROBE http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/18870327/s-korea-ex-vice-minister-charged-in-nuclear-graft-probe/ The probe by public prosecutors followed an order from President Park Geun-Hye to eradicate what she called “unpardonable” corruption in the industry.
So far 97 people have been charged with offences.
Despite concern over how the nuclear sector is run, the government has vowed to push ahead with plans to build an additional 16 reactors by 2030. SEOUL (AFP) – A former deputy minister has been charged with taking bribes as part of a corruption probe into South Korea’s nuclear industry which has already indicted nearly 100 people, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Park Young-June, a former vice minister in charge of energy, stands accused of accepting 50 million won ($45,000) bribes in 2010 in return for favouring a constructor bidding for a nuclear reactor contract.
The 53-year-old is also charged with taking backhanders from Kim Jong-Shin, the one-time chief of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, the state-run company which oversees nuclear power plants.
South Korea has 23 reactors which are meant to meet more than 30 percent of electricity needs.
The sector is currently undergoing a crisis of confidence following a series of shutdowns and a scandal involving parts provided with fake safety certificates
Last year, officials said eight suppliers were found to have faked warranties covering thousands of items used in a number of reactors. The scandal further undermined public confidence already shaken by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and its ongoing repercussions. The probe by public prosecutors followed an order from President Park Geun-Hye to eradicate what she called “unpardonable” corruption in the industry.
Video: South Korea extends ban on Japanese fish imports .http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-07/an-skorea-bans-japan-fish-imports-over-fukushima-concerns/4942274 South Korea has extended its ban on Japanese fisheries products over fears of contamination from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Australia Network News, 7 Sept 13
Consumption of fish products in South Korea has dropped sharply in recent weeks as Japanese workers struggle to contain leaks at the tsunami-wrecked facility.
The plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has admitted that highly toxic water may have made its way into the Pacific Ocean.The company also says up to 300 tonnes of mildly radioactive groundwater is making its way into the sea every day.
South Korea had previously imposed an import ban on dozens of Japanese fisheries products produced in Fukushima and seven other prefectures following the meltdown at the nuclear plant, triggered by the 2011 tsunami. The government has now widened the ban to take in all such products from Fukushima and the seven other prefectures – Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Iwate, Tochigi, Chiba and Aomori. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries says it is taking action in response to rising fears in South Korea.
“The government has concluded that the information provided by Japan so far has failed to make it clear how the incident will develop in the future. “Under the new measure, all fisheries products from this region will be banned regardless of whether they are contaminated or not.”
The ministry has also urged Tokyo to immediately provide accurate information on the leaks of contaminated water…….
TV: Public concern over Japan fish imports “looks to be justified” — Contaminated seafood recently on sale in Korea adding to fears — Over 6 million pounds found since 3/11 — Strong backlash against gov’t http://enenews.com/tv-publics-concerns-over-japan-fish-imports-look-to-be-justified-contaminated-seafood-recently-on-sale-in-korea-over-6-million-pounds-found-since-311
Arirang News,, Aug 19, 2013: Consumer concerns about the safety of Japanese fish imports into Korea since the Fukushima nuclear disaster look to be justified as authorities here say over 3-thousand tonnes of fish from Japan have been found to contain levels of radioactive cesium since 2011. Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Sunday said there were 131 different cases in which fish containing traces of cesium were detected since March 2011. [...] Cases peaked in 2012, but the amount has dropped sharply this year.
The Korea Herald, Aug 18, 2013: Government slammed over monitoring of Japanese seafood [...] Seafood contaminated by radiation leaks from the Fukushima nuclear plant has been found in the local market recently, adding to public fears [...] However, the food ministry was found not to have carried out additional inspections nor tightened return procedures [...] While most products had below 10 becquerels of radiocesium (134Cs and 137Cs) per kilogram, some products showed up to 98 becquerels ― just two becquerels less than the level considered unsafe. [...] The government’s stance has sparked strong public backlash. [Tepco] has recently confirmed long-held suspicions that the sea had been contaminated [...]
South Korea’s Nuclear Blues The Diplomat, By Sebastian Sarmiento-Saher June 19, 2013 “…..Although South Korea’s burgeoning nuclear energy industry looks set to become a world leader, Seoul will first have to address domestic corruption in the atomic sector and international questions regarding its right to reprocess spent fuel at home. Continue reading
South Korea’s Nuclear Blues The Diplomat, By Sebastian Sarmiento-Saher June 19, 2013“…..Assuming that South Korea does gain approval to conduct pyroprocessing, it may take years to do so in a way that is both technically and economically viable. The Diplomat spoke with Olli Heinonen, a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, who said that “[t]he product to the ROK pyroprocessing scheme is a uranium/transuranium/zirconium fuel, which is not suitable to fuel ROK’s LWR [Light Water Reactor] or CANDU [Canada Deuterium Uranium] reactors. Thus ROK is developing a prototype Sodium Fast Reactor (SFR), which is planned to be operational around 2028. A commercial scale SFR is envisioned to be available by the mid of the Century.”
In addition to a long wait time, pyroprocessing results in other fissile materials like Neptunium that can be used for nuclear bombs and must be safeguarded. Neptunium must be separated out, but as Dr. Heinonen added, “[i]t is fairly easy and straight forward for the IAEA to monitor and confirm that this does not take place.” This will mean that additional safeguarding efforts would need to be implemented – all of which will ultimately depend on South Korea’s willingness to abide by them.
Finally, how proliferation resistant is pyroprocessing in terms of achieving pure plutonium metal needed for nuclear weapons and timing? Dr. Heinonen gave his take: “The fact that plutonium is not fully separated from other elements gives to the ROK officials basis to argue that this difference makes pyroprocessing more proliferation resistant than traditional reprocessing.”
“In order to have pure plutonium separated, additional process steps are required either at the pyroprocessing plant or at a separate installation, which would be found by the IAEA. If such process steps are made it would take 1-3 weeks to turn the material to plutonium metal. However, before that the process steps need to be developed and constructed, but the bottom line is that by having the envisioned uranium/plutonium metal, a proliferator is substantially closer to pure plutonium metal.” ….. http://thediplomat.com/pacific-money/2013/06/19/south-koreas-nuclear-blues/
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