South Korea to scrap building new nuclear power plants

Another possible design for the laser interceptor

Another possible design for the laser interceptor

South Korea's oldest nuclear reactor, the 40-year-old Kori No. 1, was planned to halt operations at midnight on Sunday, becoming the country's first nuclear plant to close permanently amid plans for a shift towards natural gas and renewables.

Our Kim In-kyung has more.

Moon jae-in said that safety was the biggest reason for the change, which will mean South Korea's 25 nuclear reactors gradually being taken off-line as they reach the end of their working lives. Decommissioning the plant was decided in 2015 and Moon, who promoted a nuclear-free energy future for Korea during his campaign, attended the ceremony to commemorate the event.

In addition to phasing out the country's use of nuclear energy, Moon has also pledged to reduce South Korea's use of coal-fired power generation.

Moon recognised the role of nuclear power in South Korea's rapid economic development, but added that Japan's Fukushima disaster - which prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people - had convinced him that his country must look to new sources of energy.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea, one of the world's largest nuclear electricity producers, will scrap plans to build new nuclear power plants.

Moon on Monday also vowed to decommission "as soon as possible" another aged atomic plant in the southeast, whose original 30-year lifespan had been extended by another decade to 2022.

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"We will abolish our nuclear-centered energy policy and move toward a nuclear-free era".

The president said the business community's concerns about power shortages, energy bill hikes and the expense of shutting down reactors can not deter his nuclear-free energy policy.

He also vowed to introduce "post-coal" policy in line with his campaign promise to abandon coal power to ease air pollution in the country, which has the highest level of small air-pollutant particles among OECD member nations.

The public's support for nuclear power has weakened since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown and a 2013 corruption scandal over fake safety certificates for reactor parts.

President Moon has said he wants to increase the portion of renewable energy to 20% by 2030 and increase LNG imports, possibly through a Russian pipeline passing through North Korean territory. "We will make the energy industry a new growth engine for Korea", Moon said. The remaining ten coal-fired plants will be closed within his term of office, he said today.

He also said the government will build a new research institute in the southeastern region to work on technologies required to dismantle nuclear reactors.

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