Nuclear power? In Korea, we’re OK with it

Posted by Joseph Pak

Experts say that nuclear energy is safe and even “clean.” So it’s interesting that virtually every government in the world takes care to build its nuclear reactors  as far is it can from its capital or any big city.

But in South Korea, there’s an exception. The Kori nuclear plant is just 25 kms east of Busan City Hall. Indeed, it was  Busan City Hall – the leaders of the second largest city in the country – who put it there.

There are 3.2 million people in the metroplitan area. If we extend the range to 100 kms, the population in its radius grows to 7 million.

Does Korea want to show the world how safe its nuclear technology is? Maybe, because it is trying hard to export it as a skill.

But other experts and environmentalists are warning that the first version of the reactor – built in 1978 – is getting very vulnerable.

This February, after it was shut down for a regular inspection, it took an inappropriate, unpredicted and alarmingly long time to re-start. Although ultimately no harm was done, the incident was not reported to the government regulator for weeks.

Dissenting voices are starting to be raised. Meanwhile,  two new reactors came on stream at the same site last November, two more are under test and another four are planned.

A full-blown accident here could conceivably be worse than the one in Fukushima last year, when 110,000 people in a 30 km. radius had to run.

Doesn’t the government care?

What do you think about the nuclear debate? Is anti-nuclear protest serious or scare mongering?

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Filed under Asia, Joseph Pak, Korea