President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has ordered the temporary halt of construction of two Shin Kori reactors on the country's eastern coast in order to assess how the public feels about completing the projects.
The two units, Shin Kori 5 and Shin Kori 6, in the city of Busan, were estimated in May to be 28 percent complete, according to news agency Yonhap.
President Moon on June 19 outlined his plans for steering South Korea away from nuclear power, citing the risks that were demonstrated by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake that triggered a tsunami event that knocked out back up power at the Fukushima Daiichi Generating Station in northeastern Japan.
That accident, he said, was critical in his decision to guide South Korea to a “post nuclear era.”
Moon also said, in a speech marking the closing of Kori 1, the country's oldest commercial reactor, that he would “scrap all preparations to build new reactors currently underway.” Still, how far his edict would go was in question. Although it appeared unlikely, he could have moved to stop all construction projects that were in the planning stages on paper and left alone construction starts where concrete pouring had begun to finish to completion and commissioning.
South Korea currently has 24 reactors operating, which provide the country with 22.5 GWe of capacity. About a third of its electricity is generated through nuclear power plants.
South Korea's plans for nuclear power have waxed and waned since the turn of the century. By 2004, nuclear power was expected to provide 45 percent of the country's electricity generation. By 2015, plans called for an additional 12 reactors, which would be up and running by 2029. With an increase in electricity demand expected, nuclear capacity was expected to reach 38.3 GWe.
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