South Korea to scrap all plans to build new nuclear reactors

The environment advocacy group Greenpeace beams a message reading

South Korea is wrestling with air pollution problems that cost the country about $9bn a year, including carcinogenic fine dust particles.

The announcement from Moon could generate controversy in South Korea, where opinion is divided over nuclear power generation.

"Up until now, our country's energy policy has been focused on low price and efficiency only, thus neglecting the safety of..."

Moon spoke at an event marking the shut down of Kori Unit 1, South Korea's oldest nuclear power plant that was closed for decommissioning on Monday, June 19. But it's time for a change.

The president pledged to usher in an era of future-oriented, alternative energy sources, promising active support for the renewable energy industry and nuclear power plant dismantlers.

Two new nuclear reactors now under construction would be subject to a public consultation and may be scrapped.

The shutdown of Kori-1 is estimated to cost $567 million, South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo reported Monday.

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"The government will not extend the operational life cycle of nuclear reactors".

Moon said another aged nuclear reactor, whose lifespan was extended by 10 years to 2022, would be dismantled as soon as possible while considering the situations of power supply.

Since the Kori 1 reactor went online in 1978, the resource poor-country added 24 nuclear power plants to meet rising demand for electricity from rapid industrialization and economic development.

In January this year, a groundbreaking peer-reviewed study from researchers at Harvard University and Greenpeace International said approximately 50,000 lives a year could saved by 2030 if no new coal-fired power plants are built in Southeast Asia, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Its nuclear power production from 25 nuclear plants in 2016 was the fifth-largest in the world, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have long warned of the potentially disastrous consequences of a meltdown at a nuclear plant in South Korea, where many reactors are close to densely populated areas.

The former president Lee Myung-bak saw nuclear as an important source of clean energy, while Park wanted to increase the number of reactors to 36 by 2029. The Gyeongju natural disaster that struck South Korea in September 2016, which he acknowledged caused no deaths, has shown that Korea "is no longer a safe quake zone". The country is also searching for answers on how and where to permanently store spent nuclear fuel.

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