Local governments ask Moon to reconsider nuclear policyThe provincial council of North Gyeongsang voted on Thursday against the government’s policy of phasing out nuclear power.
The council passed a resolution at a plenary session asking the central government to abandon its plan to cancel projects and shut plants. The Moon Jae-in administration’s policy is to wean the country off of nuclear power and to replace the generation capacity lost with renewable energy. It intends to reduce the number of nuclear plants in the country from the current 24 to 14 by 2038.
Half of the country’s nuclear power plants are located in North Gyeongsang. The council members said that the policy is leading to job losses.
“The central government’s radical policy to phase out nuclear power has led to a slowdown in the local economy,” the resolution said. “The country has, for the past 40 years or so, supported the growth of nuclear power. But it has suddenly done an about-face on the policy, shocking many people working in the area as companies are forced to reduce the number of employees.
“The lives of local residents in North Gyeongsang have been driven to a dead-end,” it said. “The Moon administration says that communicating with citizens is of the utmost importance, but its attitude when it comes to the nuclear phase-out policy is one-sided. The administration clearly thinks nothing of the people of North Gyeongsang.”
The resolution passed by the council is largely symbolic and has no direct influence on national policy. Still, the council said it plans to send the document to the presidential secretary’s office, the prime minister’s office, the National Assembly and all relevant ministries.
The resolution makes four primary requests: to revoke the decision to scrap Unit One of the Wolseong nuclear power plant in Gyeongju; to establish a research lab related to decommissioning nuclear power plants in North Gyeongsang; to compensate some locals in Yeongdeok County who lost money after the government decided to scrap its plan to build nuclear power plants there; and to recommence construction of a nuclear power plants in Uljin County. Five local governments in North Gyeongsang - including those of Gyeongju and Pohang - submitted a report to the central government earlier this month asking it to reconsider the phase-out policy and to come up with alternative measures.
According to the provincial government of North Gyeongsang, the phase-out policy is costing the local economy some 9.5 trillion won ($8.5 billion), including the job losses.
BY KIM JUNG-SEOK [firstname.lastname@example.org]