Gov’t plans to remove nuclear plants in 40 years

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Gov’t plans to remove nuclear plants in 40 years

The presidential advisory panel for national affairs planning called on the nuclear energy regulator on Monday to confirm its stance on the Moon Jae-in government’s position on nuclear power, as the new government aims to shut down all 25 nuclear plants in the country in the next 40 years.

During a meeting with officials from the Nuclear Security and Safety Commission(NSSC) at the Financial Supervisory Service in Seoul, Lee Kai-ho, head of the committee’s second economy team, called on the NSSC to determine its path moving forward in light of Moon’s nuclear energy policy.

“Shutting down nuclear power in a gradual phase is a clear policy intention,” said Lee, a ruling Democratic Party lawmaker who serves on the de-facto transition team. “I ask the NSSC to lay out its next step as soon as possible.”

Lee’s remark came during a briefing by the state-run nuclear power regulator, hosted by the policy planning committee, which would have served as the presidential transition team had the Moon administration been elected on a regular election cycle instead of in a snap election.

Moon was sworn in as president to fill a vacancy left since March 10, when the Constitutional Court removed Park Geun-hye from power.

While on the campaign trail, Moon vowed to shut down aged nuclear power plants and stop building new ones. The Moon campaign team also promised to lay out a roadmap to have zero nuclear reactors in 40 years. To that end, Moon pledged to raise the amount of renewable energy to 20 percent of the total energy consumed by Koreans by 2030.

The Moon government’s move signals a reversal from the previous Park Geun-hye government, which remained firm on extending the operation of nuclear power plants, despite outcry from environmental groups.

President Moon’s decision appears to have been affected by Germany’s 2011 decision to shut down all 17 nuclear plants in the country by 2022, an ambitious objective that came about in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March of the same year.

To speed up the process, the policy planning panel is expected to host another meeting with the NSSC and relevant government bodies on Friday.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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