Prudence, please, on Gori-1

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Prudence, please, on Gori-1

The International Atomic Energy Agency gave pretty good marks to the accident-prone Gori-1 nuclear power reactor in Busan. It said that its nuclear facilities and equipment are “generally in good shape.” But the nuclear watchdog also pointed out that its staff has a somewhat substandard appreciation of nuclear safety.

The IAEA’s assessment is not surprising given that more than 200 experts from home and abroad thoroughly scrutinized the safety of the plant in 2007 before deciding to extend its life. But residents in the area and environmental groups refuse to accept the IAEA’s conclusion, saying it was a predetermined one. Given that our government was not obligated to ask the agency to conduct a special inspection of the reactor, however, it is difficult to reject the conclusion just because you don’t like it.

The fate of the Gori-1 reactor now depends on a decision by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission on whether to extend the reactor’s lifespan. The decision is expected by the end of this month or early next month.

Also, the Board of Audit and Inspection and the prosecution are examining problems with the nuclear plant, including attempts to cover up accidents. Therefore, it is much better for us to stop wasting time in futile debates and follow the judgment of the commission. We also need to refer to the fact that Japan is making moves to
reactivate its Oi-3 and 4 reactors in Fukui Prefecture for the first time since the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year.

A hot summer is on the horizon and demand for electricity has already reached a critical point at which our electricity reserves have sunk to a dangerous level of 3.5 million kilowatts.

That situation is expected to continue until 2014, when large-scale thermal power plants are scheduled to be completed.

Blind support for nuclear power plants is never wise, but opposition for the sake of opposition or because of an immersion in environmental fundamentalism is not helpful, either. Let the questions be resolved by the NSSC. Even if it decides to extend the lifespan of Gori-1, it only amounts to a technical judgment, not an indulgence.

The government and the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. should not push ahead with a plan to reactivate the reactor. Instead, they must mitigate complaints from local residents, including fishermen, while taking public sentiment fully into account. It is not too late to reactivate the Gori-1 reactor after that.
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