News / Asia

S. Korea Delivers New Assurance on Safety of Nuclear Plants

Despite this year's nuclear reactor meltdowns in Japan, its neighbor South Korea is moving ahead with an expansion of its civilian nuclear industry. Not only is South Korea building more atomic power plants on its own, it is also increasing exports of its indigenous technology.

The disastrous setbacks to Japan’s nuclear industry and moves by other nations, such as Germany, to shutter all nuclear power plants have not dissuaded South Korea from expanding its atomic energy capabilities.

The country currently relies on domestic nuclear plants for about one-third of its total electrical output. It hopes to increase that to 59 percent in less than 20 years.

Younggwang Nuclear Power Plant, Uljin-gun, Gyeong-buk, South Korea, (undated photo).
Younggwang Nuclear Power Plant, Uljin-gun, Gyeong-buk, South Korea, (undated photo).

Meanwhile, after recent deals with such countries as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam -- cumulatively worth tens of billions of dollars -- South Korea could become a major exporter of nuclear energy technology and expertise. It is looking at striking deals for additional nuclear plants in China, Romania and Turkey.

After the meltdown of three reactors in March at Japan's Fukushima-1 nuclear plant, following a huge earthquake and tsunami, South Korea carried out a quick safety review of all of its reactors. Nineteen are online, two are offline for maintenance and seven more are under construction or planned.

The country's oldest nuclear power facility, built in 1978 was under special scrutiny earlier this year. The Gori-1 reactor, near the port city of Busan, was off line for two months after a fire in April destroyed one of the circuit breakers.

Gori-1, with an output of 578 megawatts, had originally been set to end operations in 2008, but was given an extended lease on life.

South Korea's Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Lee Ju-ho, says the public should be assured Gori-1, despite its age and previous problems, is not a hazard.

Lee says safety experts concluded after this year's incident it was still safe to operate the plant so the ministry decided to follow their advice and re-start the reactor.

South Korea says, in wake of the Japan disaster, it is enhancing safety measures at the existing nuclear plants in the unlikely event there could be a radiation leak resulting from a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a tsunami. The one billion dollars worth of upgrades will be done over the next five years.

Both South Korea and Japan are poor in natural resources and have mainly relied on imports of fossil fuels to power their economic development in the past decades.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs