Put it to public debateThe Korean Nuclear Society (KNS) has raised questions about the Moon Jae-in administration’s rush to end the era of nuclear power in Korea. In a press conference on Monday, the group of over 5,000 nuclear experts from the industrial, academic and research circles stressed the need to review the government’s energy policy in a logical and scientific way.
What worries the group most is an unavoidable weakening of our industrial competitiveness that will result from the government’s push to scrap electricity generation from nuclear plants. The Moon administration has drawn up a plan to produce electricity from renewable energy sources following his campaign promise to phase out nuclear plants across the country. As a result, the government already cancelled new plans to build the Cheonji 1 and 2 reactors as well as the Daejin 1 and 2 reactors following its shutting down of the Wolseong 1 reactor earlier than scheduled.
Nuclear experts maintain that the Wolseong 1 reactor is no different from a new reactor as its old components were already replaced with new ones after spending a whopping 700 billion won ($629.2 million) to renew the plant. Nevertheless, the government decided to close it without any clear explanation. The KNS is increasingly concerned about the possibility of the entire network of nuclear power generation — including more than 600 suppliers mostly consisting of small and mid size companies — collapsing as a result of the nuclear phase-out. Scholars of the society argue that if the government keeps pushing its nuclear phase-out, it will diminish the leverage of our mainstay industries, including semiconductors, steelmaking and displays.
Korea’s nuclear reactor technology is on par with the world’s top players, as seen in its export of nuclear power plants to the United Arab Emirates. Shutting down such a crucial industry causes a huge loss to our economy. Even though he made a campaign promise, the president can amend it to meet more important domestic goals.
After undergoing a public canvassing last October, our society reached a consensus that it was better to resume construction of the Shin Kori 5 and 6 reactors. The government should offer a chance to weigh the merits and demerits of nuclear plants to reestablish a farsighted energy plan. We urge the government to listen to the advice of the KNS.