All eyes are on whether Shin Hanul Nos. 3 & 4 projects would be resumed
A general view of the Shin Kori Nuclear Power Units 3 & 4.
Chairperson Uhm Jae-sik of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) recently announces the commission’s issuance of a go-ahead on the operation of Shin Kori Nuclear Power Unit 4. (Photos: NSSC)
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) gave a go-ahead to the operation of the Shin Kori Nuclear Power Unit 4.
A permission on the operation of a newly built nuclear power unit has been issued for the first time under the President Moon Jae-in government of weaning the nation off nuclear power.
All eyes are focused on whether the move might hint a change of course in the government’s anti-nuclear paradigm shift that has remained unwavering since the inauguration of the current government.
The NSSC convened a meeting on Feb. 1 and approved the operation of Shin Kori Nuclear Power Unit 4 with a few changes.
The nod came seven years and eight months after Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., the operator of the nuclear power facility, submitted a permission on the operation of the unit and one and half years after the construction of the nuclear power unit was completed.
The move comes on the heels of a riding demand on the resumption of the construction of Shin Hanul Nuclear Power Units 3&4, which have been put on the hold, particularly by a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and a state-run research institute. At a New Year greeting for those in the nuclear power industry at Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam Hotel on Jan. 11, Rep. Song Young-gil of the Democratic Party said resuming the Shin Hanul Nos. 3 & 4 project should be considered.
Rep. Song spoke in detail about the request, calling for resuming the Shin Hanul project to sustain the nuclear power industry and even to use it as a bridge to export nuclear power abroad. Rep. Song’s demand had touched off a sever pro vs. con debate among ruling party lawmakers.
Shin Kori Nuclear Power Unit 4, located in Ulju-gun, Ulsan Metropolitan city, has a 1.4GW capacity, the largest one in Korea. The nuclear power unit has the APR2400 reactor, the same as that of nuclear power units being built in the United Aram Emirates. Shin Kori Unit 3 was given a go-ahead on the operation of the unit in October 2015, and it was permitted to put into commercial operation, in December 2016.
On the other hand, Shin Kori Unit 4 whose work was launched in September 2017 was dedicated in August 2017.
An application on the permission on the operation of the unit was submitted in May 2011, but the issuance of a go-ahead on the operation of the unit was delayed to undergo souped-up safety evaluations in the wake of an earthquake that hit Gyeongju in September 2016 and a tremor that hit Pohang in November 2017.
The NSSC cited the reason of the delay of the issuance of a go-ahead on the operation of Shin Kori Unit 4 as safety, but the commission had come under fire for intentionally dragging its feet in accordance with the government’s antinuclear policy. NSSC Chairperson Uhm Jae-sik denied the intentional delay at a news conference held in January.
The NSSC convened this year’s first meeting and unanimously approved a permission on the operation of Shin Kori Unit 4. Voices are mounting over a change in the government’s policy of weaning the nation off nuclear power. Political and nuclear power industry circles demand a change in the government’s anti-nuclear policy in a run-up to a general election slated for next April.