Sunday, April 17, 2011
Text Fwd: Kori Nuclear Power Plant Must Not Repeat the Mistakes of Fukushima
Gori Nuclear Power Plant. File photo taken March 16, 2011.
Kori Nuclear Power Plant Must Not Repeat the Mistakes of Fukushima April 10, 2011
Kori Nuclear Power Plant Must Not Repeat the Mistakes of Fukushima
A few days ago, there was an accidental shutdown at the No. 1 reactor at Kori Nuclear Power Plant, the subject of recent controversy over extended lifetime.
Authorities at the Kori plant explained that the incident was simply an automatic shutdown due to the breakdown of electricity supply equipment, and that there are no problems regarding the safety of the reactor. Such explanations, however, no longer provide us with the sense of trust that they once did.
It so happens that, a few hours before Kori 1 shut down, the Japanese government suddenly acknowledged that the danger level of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident was equivalent to that of Chernobyl, while the Busan Bar Association applied for a court injunction to have Kori 1 taken out of operation.
At a time when trust in nuclear power has collapsed, the accident at Kori 1 is not something that can merely be disregarded as inconsequential. Kori 1's planned lifetime expired in June 2007, but the government decided to extend it for a further 10 years, starting in 2008.
It is said that at the time, one of the grounds for claiming that Kori 1 should not be closed down and should be run for longer was the successful lifetime extension of Japan's Fukushima Plant.
No reports from safety inspections regarding the lifetime extension of Kori 1 have been made public, however, and it has never been made known which or how many of its components have been replaced.
This is what makes it difficult to believe that the recent shutdown accident was simply due to equipment failure. It is highly likely that this accident was related to overall decrepitude. Parts that have surpassed their planned lifetime but not been replaced can go wrong at any time.
Japan's nuclear accident provides two lessons. Firstly, when an accident does happen, its results go beyond the imaginable; and secondly, that there is no use in believing that nuclear power plants can be managed safely.
Japan, which excels in management, increased distrust by responding in a flustered manner to the nuclear accident. Only the other day did the Japanese government finally raise the danger level of the Fukushima accident by a whole two grades to level seven, a level that can have serious effects on neighboring countries too.
It is not only the people of Japan who are surprised and disappointed. Until that point, the government and nuclear experts had been saying that the Japanese accident would not correspond to the worst possible scenario, and that there would be no problems when it came to Korea's safety.
Some even went as far as to suggest conspiracy theories when it came to those expressing doubts about the safety of nuclear power. Confidence in nuclear power, however, has already collapsed due to what happened in Japan.
When it comes to Kori 1, this is not just a matter of fixing the electrical equipment and hurrying to restart the reactor. There is no questioning the danger of decrepit nuclear plants.
Kori 1 produces no more than one percent of the total electricity consumed in Korea, and it is said that total electricity generation exceeds total demand by around 10%.
In other words, Korea's electricity situation is not so critical that we must place ourselves in danger. The decision on whether to restart Kori 1 must be taken through public debate and consensus. (Editorial, The Kyunghyang Daily News. April 14, 2011)