South Korea to push ahead with nuclear power plants

AFP-JIJI

South Korea on Friday decided to push ahead with the construction of two new nuclear reactors after months of heated debate over whether the country should start weaning itself off atomic energy.

A state commission, based on a survey of 471 jurors selected across the country, recommended finishing construction of the Shin Kori-5 and Shin Kori-6 reactors near the southeastern city of Ulsan.

“We recommend the resumption of the two reactors,” commission chairman Kim Ji-hyung said in a press statement.

Construction was suspended in July with 30 percent complete amid controversy whether the country should shift away from nuclear power because of safety concerns.

The government has already said it would accept whatever the jury recommended regarding the fate of the two reactors.

Scrapping the project was one of President Moon Jae-In’s campaign promises.

After taking office in May, however, he took a back step in the face of strong protests and decided to determine the reactors’ fate according to public opinion.

He ordered the establishment of the independent state commission charged with collecting public views and making a recommendation.

About 1.6 trillion won ($1.4 billion) has already been spent on the reactors.

South Korea relies on nuclear power for about 30 percent of its energy needs.

Aside from the two reactors, the country has another four that are near completion and 24 existing reactors.