Seoul summit of nuclear industry leaders starts today

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Seoul summit of nuclear industry leaders starts today

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The terrifying failure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following last year’s Japan earthquake and tsunami has divided opinion over how nuclear energy should be used.

While Germany has chosen to shut down all of its nuclear power facilities by 2022 to avoid the risk of similar meltdowns, emerging economies like Vietnam are trying to build their first nuclear power plants. Many countries, including Korea, feel they have no alternative but to continue relying on nuclear power. But they’re more conscious of the risks and the need to be more vigilant than the Japanese were.

Over 200 leaders of the nuclear industry and representatives of international organizations will gather in Seoul to participate in the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Industry Summit that starts today and goes through tomorrow. The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, which will be attended by leaders of 53 countries and four international organizations, will take place Monday and Tuesday.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, the host of the industry summit, expects the conference will set a future direction for enhancing nuclear security and safety and restore confidence in the nuclear industry that was shaken by the Fukushima disaster.

“This is a crucial opportunity to showcase how a country that rose from the ashes of the Korean War is using nuclear energy in peaceful way,” said Kim Jong-shin, CEO of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power. “Participants will also come up with ideas how they can achieve their fundamental goal: the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

The participants include: Roger Howsley, executive director of the World Institute for Nuclear Security; Laurent Stricker, chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators; John Ritch, director general of the World Nuclear Association; and Marvin S. Fertel, CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute. The summit’s theme is: The Role of the Nuclear Industry in Enhancing Nuclear Security and Safety.

Three working groups have been organized. The first will seek ways to minimize civilian uses of highly enriched uranium by modifying highly enriched uranium-fueled reactors and other nuclear facilities to use low-enriched uranium, which can’t be used to make nuclear weapons.

The second group will discuss security measures to prevent illicit acquisition or use of nuclear material by terrorists or rogue states. The third will discuss nuclear security and safety in the post-Fukushima era.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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