South Korea to expand nuclear energy despite growing safety fears

SEOUL Tue Jan 8, 2013 9:06am IST

Stocks

   

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea has no option but to expand its nuclear power plant programme despite growing public concern over safety in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011 and a series of scares that closed two reactors last year.

The proportion of South Koreans who considered nuclear power safe fell to 34.8 percent in a survey conducted in November and published on Tuesday, down from 40 percent in April 2011 and 71 percent in January 2010, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said.

The ministry has been sharply criticised for its role as regulator and operator of the country's nuclear power plants, and one of its subsidiaries was accused of suppressing negative public opinion after the Fukushima disaster by not publishing polls.

A fake parts scandal closed two reactors last year and the industry suppressed details of the closure of the Kori No.1 reactor early in 2012.

"It is an urgent priority to recover people's trust and the safety of reactors just as it is unavoidable to maintain nuclear at a certain percentage of the total power supply, considering the power supply and demand situation," the ministry said.

The two troubled reactors were fully restarted last week, easing fears over winter power shortages.

Three others are offline for maintenance and operational approval, but power supplies remain a concern amid peak winter demand expected until the end of next month.

Asia's fourth-largest economy, which depends heavily on oil and gas imports, plans to add 11 reactors by 2024 on top of its existing 23 reactors which supply a third of the country's total power.

An earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March 2011 killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years when the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant was destroyed, leaking radiation into the sea and air.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

SCOTLAND REFERENDUM

Reuters Showcase

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola could drain billions of dollars from African economies - World Bank.  Full Article 

Pakistan Floods

Pakistan Floods

Pakistani Islamists use floods to turn opinion against India  Full Article 

Yes Or No?

Yes Or No?

Scots' support for independence lags on eve of referendum.  Full Article 

Ukraine Tension

Ukraine Tension

Ukraine PM tells army to be on full battle alert despite ceasefire.  Full Article 

Chemical Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Syria reveals more chemical weapons facilities to watchdog - sources.  Full Article 

Pakistan Protests

Pakistan Protests

Pakistan's PM threatens to clear protesters camped in capital.  Full Article 

India-China Ties

India-China Ties

Xi sees factory China and back office India as global engine.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage