Nation's Oldest Reactor Shuts Down open the window of AOD

Write : 2017-06-25


South Korea's oldest nuclear reactor, the Kori-1 reactor which had generated electricity for 40 years, was permanently shut down as of midnight last Sunday. It's the first time the country has closed a commercial nuclear power station.
In the first step toward the shutdown, the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power cut off the reactor's power supply line last Saturday. The reactor’s temperature, which reached nearly 300 degrees Celsius during operation, dropped to 93 degrees by Sunday midnight.
President Moon Jae-in spoke at a ceremony held in Busan Monday to mark the permanent shutdown of Kori-1. He announced he would scrap a nuclear-centered energy policy and abolish all plans to build new nuclear power plants.
He also said the operational lifespan of old nuclear power plants will not be extended.
He expressed plans to shut down the country's second oldest reactor, the Wolseong- 1, as soon as possible, considering the power supply and demand. He said he will work to gain a consensus on whether to halt the construction of the Shin Kori-5 and -6 reactors, which are around 30 percent complete.
Built in 1977, the Kori-1 began commercial operations in late April the following year. The nation's first reactor was not without controversy however.
Due to the 300 million dollar construction cost, an astronomical figure in those days, it was criticized as a "reckless project" both at home and abroad. Three hundred million dollars was one fourth of the nation's budget in 1970, and the government also borrowed funds from the UK and US to finance the plant.
However, the government pressed on with the project because power supply conditions were extremely unstable, which hindered industrialization and inconvenienced public life. Additionally, nuclear energy was hailed as economical, clean, and pollution-free at the time.
In the end, the completed Kori-1 provided a stable electricity supply to the nation to put to rest any criticism over the project. The 30-year lifespan of Kori-1 expired in 2007 but it was extended to run for another 10 years.
The reactor generated over 150-thousand gigawatts of electrical power over 40 years and played a critical role in the nation's development into an industrial economy.
However in recent years, especially following the Fukushima disaster, nuclear power plants have been under scrutiny over safety and environmental concerns. The government plans to transfer the used nuclear fuel, dismantle the facility, and restore the site by the end of 2032 at a cost of over 640 billion won.

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