South Korean president Moon Jae-in has used the permanent shutdown of Kori unit 1 to outline his intended nuclear energy phase-out policy.
Our Kim In-kyung has more.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday vowed to scrap all existing plans for new nuclear power plants and not to extend the operation of any aged reactors.
South Korea now operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about 30 per cent of the country's power supply. The president stressed that the government's energy policies in the future should focus on boosting public safety, environmental protection and sustainable growth.
Moon promised to cut coal and nuclear power during his presidential campaigns.
As part of the efforts, the president announced that the government will abolish all plans to build new nuclear power plants while upgrading the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission to an agency under his direct supervision.
South Korean nuclear technology is now an export business headed by the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company, a subsidiary of the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), which is 51 percent owned by the South Korean government.
Moon said the decommissioning of the Kori-1 reactor was the starting point to go toward a nuclear-free, safe South Korea, vowing to foster renewable energy sources such as solar and wind powers and LNG power plants.
With regards to units 5 and 6 of the Shin Kori plant - construction permits for which were approved by NSSC last June - Moon said he would reach a "social consensus" as soon as possible on whether their construction will proceed.
He pledged to abandon the nuclear-centric electric power policy and open a post-nuclear era.
Moon added that he would not extend the operation of ageing reactors, many of which will come to the end of their lifespans between 2020 and 2030.
Coal accounts for a greater share of South Korea's energy mix than nuclear so the announcement is likely to lead to increases in both renewable and gas power.
Many reactors are located dangerously close to residential areas in the densely populated nation, he added, warning of "unimaginable consequences" in case of a nuclear meltdown.
"South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquakes, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact". He also said the shutdown of Kori-1 can be seen as another opportunity for Korea, since disassembling a nuclear reactor is not only a matter of time but also incredible skill. He also pledged to shut old coal power plants and stop building new coal plants.
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