SEOUL, June 20 (Korea Bizwire) – The Moon administration’s efforts to mothball nuclear power plants and focus on renewable energy are being met with significant challenges.
On Monday, President Moon attended an event held at Kori Nuclear Power Plant in Busan in celebration of the permanent closure of the very first nuclear power reactor in the country, during which he pressed a button alongside children to symbolize a step towards renewable energy, a priority for his administration.
The event took place in the presence of long-time workers who have been employed for over 30 years at Unit 1 of the Kori Nuclear Power Plant, as well as employees from Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power responsible for closing down the country’s first nuclear power reactor.
Since its controversial establishment, the Kori-1 nuclear power reactor has generated 150,000 gigawatts, which amounts to 34 years of electricity consumption for the city of Busan.
However, after former ambassador of denuclearization at the Young Women’s Christian Association Ha Sun-gyu personally showed appreciation on stage and President Moon made a speech, an elderly woman who was seemingly upset stole the scene, as she bowed to the president while crying.
According to reports, she was heard asking the president to read a letter she sent to the Blue House in hopes of stopping the construction of a new transmission tower in Miryang, which will be used to transfer electricity generated at both the Kori-5 and Kori-6 nuclear power reactors.
While the public’s reaction varied, with many online comments in support of the government going forward with its move towards renewable energy and slashing reliance on nuclear power, the elderly woman’s appeal harks back to the ongoing controversial conflict between the Korea Electric Power Corporation and the residents of Miryang over safety and health concerns surrounding the new transmission tower.
As the complete shutdown and dismantling of Kori-1 is expected to take a minimum of 15 years, with a budget of around 643 billion won by the end of 2032, some worry this important milestone could be overshadowed by possible conflicts between local communities and the government’s energy policy.
As Moon on Monday reaffirmed his stance to find ways to come to an agreement with the industry in scrapping plans to build two additional Kori nuclear power reactors, the government is set for a collision course with pro-nuclear energy groups and local communities affected by the current administration’s energy policy.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)