Solutions for disposing used nuclear fuel

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Solutions for disposing used nuclear fuel

After 38 years since nuclear power generation and 30 years of site selection, a completion ceremony for the Gyeongju Nuclear Waste Disposal Site was held on Aug. 28 with the support of the people of Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang. The challenge of securing a facility to dispose nuclear waste was wisely solved, and Korea has reduced a national burden. It would not have been possible without the understanding and support of locals and the democratic process.

Let’s look back on the social turmoil over the course of addressing nuclear waste disposal. There have been concerns over whether Korea is capable of safely managing and disposing nuclear waste, whether having such a facility helps the development of the region and whether the government can be trusted. With the completion of the Gyeongju Nuclear Waste Disposal Site, let’s review the concerns and affirm the government’s intention.

First, safety of the citizens was the primary concern. Safety was prioritized when building the low and intermediate-level radioactive waste disposal facility. World-class technology and capabilities were used, and safety was verified nine times. The government pledges to allow no mistake when it comes to safety in the course of maintaining and operating the facility.

Second, the region that hosts a nationally necessary facility, such as the radioactive waste disposal site, takes a burden for other regions, so it deserves corresponding benefits. The government is faithfully promoting four special projects and 55 general projects for local communities in Gyeongju. The Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power headquarters will begin operation in Gyeongju next year, and 28 of the 55 general projects to receive a total of 3.23 trillion won ($2.73 billion) by 2035 have been completed.

Lastly, the government pledges to continuously work hard to turn distrust and doubts people may have about the government into trust and confidence. The example of Gyeongju will prove that the government communicates transparently, keeps promises and responsibly builds trust. Only then can we find a wise solution for the remaining challenge of disposing used nuclear fuel.

Yoon Sang-jick, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy

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