Nuclear commission begins public surveying

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Nuclear commission begins public surveying

The government said Thursday that it had selected a contractor to survey public opinion on the construction of two controversial nuclear reactors in the southeastern part of the country.

A consortium led by Hankook Research will conduct a poll on the Shin Kori 5 and 6 nuclear reactors being built in Ulsan and submit results to a state commission.

The commission consisting of industry experts including scientists will in turn form a group of 500 citizens to deliberate on the matter in October.

The consortium expects to begin its work later today.

The first round of surveys will be conducted over 18 days with 20,000 people, and the questions will focus on whether construction of the nuclear power plants should be stopped completely. The government in July had temporarily halted the project while it deliberates on the matter.

The survey will also poll people’s opinions on President Moon Jae-in’s policy goal of eliminating Korea’s dependence on nuclear energy. Earlier this month, the president said that dismantling the country’s nuclear power plants would be a long-term project that will take 60 years.

“The first survey will be meaningful in that it will be used as a reference to look at the changing trend rather than having an independent meaning of its own,” said Kim Ji-hyung, a former Supreme Court justice who is currently chairman of the commission. “We have to seek meaning in public discussion on the issue and jointly find new selective solutions by narrowing differences among conflicting opinions.”

He said the survey results would only be disclosed to the public if the “fairness of public discussion” is threatened by false rumors while the commission deliberates on the matter.

Two additional public surveys will be conducted as well.

The commission expects to form its panel of 500 from people who have participated in the survey and are willing to take part in the discussion.

The panel of laymen will receive briefings on the nuclear power plant issue before they begin their discussion. The process is expected to last three days and start as early as Oct. 13.

The survey contractor, Hankook Research, is the country’s largest polling company. It was founded in 1978 and last year made 66 billion won ($58 million) in revenue. The company has conducted over 23,000 surveys in its four decades of experience.

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