Civic groups call for closure of aging nuclear plant

Posted on : 2011-03-18 14:31 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
The Wolseong reactor received an extra 10-year operational extension prior to the nuclear crisis in Japan
 “Nuclear-free earth
“Nuclear-free earth

By Park Ju-hee


As the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant races out of control following a series of explosions resulting from last week’s earthquake and tsunami, concerns are mounting rapidly among South Koreans living near power plants. Civic organizations in the area of Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, demanded the permanent closure of the No. 1 reactor of the Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant in the city’s Yangnam Township. The extension of the reactor’s operating life is under examination.

Hoisting a banner reading “Wolsung = next Hukusima,” members of Gyeongju Nuclear Safety Solidarity held a press conference Thursday in front of Gyeongju City Hall, where they demanded that authorities “withdraw plans to extend the operational life of the decrepit first reactor at the Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant, and close it permanently.”

The group was organized by twenty local civic and social organizations including the Gyeongju Federation for Environmental Movement.

“The series of explosions at the Fukushima plant shows that the more time-worn a power plant is, the more it is susceptible to natural disasters such as earthquakes,” the group said. “As citizens of a city with numerous nuclear power plants, we cannot view the Japanese people’s tragedy as someone else’s affair.”

The No. 1 reactor at Wolseong, which began commercial operation in April 1983, is facing the end of its thirty-year design lifespan in March 2013. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) is scheduled to make a decision around June as to whether to prolong its lifespan by another ten years.

“The Eupcheon Fault near the Wolseong plant is an active fault, so there is a possibility that the land may be unstable as a result of the earthquake in Japan,” the group said.

The Wolseong Nuclear Facility Environment and Safety Monitoring Committee (WSNESC) produced an analysis of tritium concentrations in the bodies of residents in the area around the Wolseong plant. According to the group, the concentration of tritium in the bodies of residents of Naa Village in Gyeongju’s Yangnam Township, at an average of 23.6 becquerels per liter, is 25.7 times higher than the 0.919Bq/L concentration seen in residents of Gyeongju’s urban area.


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