Gov’t to Secure Site to Treat Used Nuclear Fuel Cells by 2036
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Gov’t to Secure Site to Treat Used Nuclear Fuel Cells by 2036
MOTIE comes up with R&D roadmap to secure intermediate storage and deep geological disposal facilities by 2043 and 2060, respectively

01(Mon), Aug, 2022

2nd MOTIE Vice Minister Park Il-joon speaks at a debate on a R&D roadmap for treating high-level radwaste at The K-Hotel in Yangjae-dong, Seoul, on July 20. (Photo: MOTIE)

The government released an R&D roadmap to secure intermediate storage and deep geological disposal facilities by 2043 and 2060, respectively, after acquiring a site to treat spent fuel cells, which is high-level radwaste. 

The R&D roadmap is a blueprint for securing technologies for the safe management of high-level radwaste. In accordance with the R&D roadmap released that day, the government plans to secure technologies one-by-one.

The roadmap was unveiled at a related debate, which was hosted by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) at The K-Hotel in Yangjae-dong, Seoul, on July 20. 

As for the direction of the new government’s energy policies, the government on July 5 confirmed the full use of nuclear power to cope with climate change, and ramp up energy security. 

The new government’s nuclear power policy is a total reversal of the previous government’s policy of weaning the nation off nuclear power. 

Recognizing that the requisite of nuclear power policies is safety, the government plans to ensure the safe treatment of the high-level radwaste, the inevitable by-product of the operation of nuclear power units, in accordance with the R&D roadmap. 

It is designed to quickly accumulate technological capabilities to cope with global government policy changes of utilizing nuclear power, such as the EU’s inclusion of nuclear power in taxonomy. 

Implementing the safe management of the high-level radwaste based on scientific rationale and technological feasibility is expected. 

It’s also expected to seize opportunities to enter and expand into the Korean and foreign high-level radwaste storage system and technology markets. 

The R&D roadmap contains element technologies, homegrown technology levels, technology development schedule and methods, and costs, analyzed by experts in the four management areas of high-level radwaste: transportation, storage, site and treatment. 

In March, MOTIE formed three subdivisions on transportation/storage, site and treatment, and the R&D roadmap was work out through reviews by experts of each category.

As for transportation technology, the government plans to secure the technology to design and produce a system capable of transporting high-level radwaste by 2030. 

As for the storage category, the government plans to secure the technology to design and produce a storage system by 203 and the technology to deliver spent fuel cell. 

As for the evaluation of a site, the government plans to raise up technological capabilities so that a site with the least environmental impact can be selected by securing geological environment, ecosystem, and climate change prediction and verification technologies.

The government plans to develop the technology to construct a deep geological treatment facility by 2031 and complete the verification of the construction and operation of the facility by 2048. 

The construction of the deep geological treatment facility will begin in 2056 and the treatment facility will be put into operation in 2060. 

Korea’s radwaste management technology stood at 84 percent, 80 percent, 62 percent and 57 percent in transportation, storage, site and treatment categories compared to highest levels of advanced countries such as the United States, Sweden and Finland. 

Out of 104 element technologies, twenty-two have been already homemade, 49 get under development and 133 others need to be developed. 

The government has already invested 400 billion won by 2022, and 1.4 trillion won from a radwaste fund is required to be poured.
The R&D sector will cost 900.2 billion won while 493.6 billion won will be spent for the construction of an underground research lab.

2nd MOTIE Vice Minister Park Il-joon said at the debate, “The government plans to manage high-level radwaste in a safe fashion by securing safety management technologies based on scientific rationality.” 

He called for the scientific circles to be responsible for securing technologies to ensure the safe management of high-level radwaste in accordance with the R&D roadmap so that people and regional communities can safe and trust.

MOTIE plans to hold follow-up debates on each sector and gather additional opinions such as consulting services by foreign institutions. The R&D map will be amended and overhauled before it will be finalized in the second half of the year. 

In particular, a MOTIE official said the R&D map will be complemented through in cooperation with advanced countries such as Finland and France and international organizations such as IAEA and OECD/NEA. 

MOTIE said it will devote itself to seeking to enact a special act on the treatment of high-level radwaste, which would stipulate details, including procedure, methods and schedule and supporting a successful site candidate to ensure the safety treatment of spent fuel cells. 

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