Korea develops expertise for Kori 1 decommissioning

04 September 2017

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) has signed contracts with several domestic companies to develop technologies for decommissioning Kori unit 1, which was permanently shut down in June. It is the first South Korean reactor to enter decommissioning.

Kori 1 decommissioning technology contracts - 460 (KAERI)
Company representatives mark the signing of the contracts (Image: KAERI)

KAERI said today it has signed contracts with Kepco Plant Service & Engineering and Doosan, among others, to develop technologies for dismantling facilities and equipment, as well as land contamination measurement technology. The companies will also develop technologies for simulating the dismantling of the plant, chemical decontamination and waste disposal processes.

KAERI said it has already secured 27 technologies out of 38 identified for the complete decommissioning of Kori 1. It is already at the laboratory verification stage for the remaining 11 technologies and aims to gain the necessary expertise by 2021.

Unit 1 of the Kori plant near Busan started commercial operation in 1978. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced in August 2015 it had withdrawn its application to extend the unit's operating licence. In June last year, the company applied to decommission the reactor. The permanent shutdown of Kori 1 was approved by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) in early June. The 576 MWe pressurised water reactor was permanently shut down on 18 June. KHNP is to submit a decommissioning plan for the unit within five years.

Following the closure of Kori 1, South Korea has 24 power reactors in operation with a combined generating capacity of 22,505 MWe. Together they provide about one-third of the country's electricity.

Public opinion

On 19 June, South Korean President Moon Jae-in used a ceremony marking Kori 1's closure to say plans for new power reactors will be cancelled and the operating periods of existing units will not be extended beyond their design life. Moon has cited concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants due to earthquakes as one reason for the phase-out policy.

On units 5 and 6 of the Shin Kori plant - construction permits for which were approved by NSSC last June - Moon said he would reach a "social consensus" as soon as possible on whether their construction will proceed. The units were almost 30% complete before construction was suspended in July. Moon said the cost of constructing the units, their safety and the costs of any potential compensation would be taken into consideration. A government-appointed commission is polling the public on the continued use of nuclear power in the country.

A poll conducted by Gallup Korea indicates growing public support for the continued construction of Shin Kori 5 and 6, the Korea Herald reported today. The study, released on 1 September, shows that 42% of the 1003 people questioned are in favour of the units being built, with 38% against. In polls conducted in July and August, those in support were 37% and 40%, respectively, while opposition was 41% in July and 42% in August.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News