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Moon criticized for pulling nuclear plug

July 08,2017
Nuclear power experts, scientists and environmentalists are expressing disapproval of President Moon Jae-in’s steering of Korea away from nuclear energy, saying the rest of the world is moving in the opposite direction.

Serge Gorlin, head of Industry Cooperation at the World Nuclear Association (WNA), said it was unfortunate that Korea was abandoning its nuclear power plants considering that its technology is sophisticated and has even been exported to other nations.

Senior officials from the WNA visited Korea and held a press conference at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute’s Nuclear Training & Education Center on Friday.

Gorlin said Korea has safely and competitively operated nuclear power plants for 50 years, and the country could see higher electricity bills if it decides to close down the plants. He warned that Korea will lose competitiveness in the sector, and will face trouble exporting nuclear power related products and technologies.

Gorlin argued that many countries are choosing to reduce carbon emission by building more nuclear power plants.

If Korea gives up on nuclear power plants, it will have no other option but to depend on importing energy sources from politically unstable regions like the Middle East.

It may also not be able to meet its commitments in climate change agreements.

Milton Caplan, chair of the WNA Economics Working Group, argued that Canada, where he lives, depends heavily on nuclear power even though the country has rich natural resources. He said the state of Ontario depends on nuclear power for 60 percent of its energy needs, and can’t fulfill that demand through renewable energy sources.

On Wednesday, 27 American scientists and environmentalists sent a letter to Moon saying that the shift from nuclear reactors to green energy would actually hurt the environment.

“The planet needs a vibrant South Korean nuclear industry, and the South Korean nuclear industry needs you as a strong ally and champion,” read the letter sent to Moon.

“If South Korea withdraws from nuclear the world risks losing a valuable supplier of cheap and abundant energy needed to lift humankind out of poverty and solve the climate crisis.” The group calls itself Environmental Progress.

The group added that huge amounts of land would be needed to replace nuclear energy through renewable sources.

“Solar and wind are not alternatives to nuclear,” the letter said. “For South Korea to replace all of its nuclear plants with solar, it would need to build 4,400 solar farms the size of South Korea’s largest solar farm, Sinan, which would cover an area five times larger than Seoul.

“To do the same with wind would cover an area 14.5 times larger than Seoul.”


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]


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