Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power News Science

South Korea To Restart Its Oldest Nuclear Reactor 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the fire-it-up dept.
ananyo writes "South Korea's oldest nuclear reactor is set to restart after a four-month closure, despite strong opposition from local residents and activists. The Kori-1 reactor in Busan was shut down on 13 March, after it was revealed that the reactor and its emergency generator had temporarily lost power during routine maintenance the month before, causing the coolant temperature to rise. The power failure did not cause an accident, but a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna discovered that senior engineers from Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, which runs the reactor, had neglected the safety problems for more than a month after the loss of power. In June, after a safety check, the IAEA gave the green light for Kori-1 to resume operation. Korea's Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) approved the restart on 4 July, but activists and local residents remain strongly opposed to restarting the reactor. At first, the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy, which oversees energy policy, had said that the restart would be delayed to alleviate anxiety. But the government changed its mind as a result of a nationwide heatwave that has put a strain on the country's electricity supply in recent days."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

South Korea To Restart Its Oldest Nuclear Reactor

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @04:30AM (#40853609)

    Would Koreans agree to pay more for, and use less, electricity as a whole so this reactor can remain offline?

    • With a title like that, more like:

      The Koreans run into the reactor room, get hit with radiation, heroically pull out the uranium rod and replace it with a new one, while Kirk watches behind the glass in horror, and say to him "The needs of the few... i have always been... and shall be... your friend"

    • by C0R1D4N (970153) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:28AM (#40853903)
      For comparison, America's oldesr operational reactor Oyster Creek in NJ is 9 years older than this one
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Also, Oyster Creek is substantially the same GE design of plant as Fukushima Daiichi. I have a close family member who worked at OC several years, and the two plants would routinely send teams to each other to compare notes...

        For comparison, America's oldesr operational reactor Oyster Creek in NJ is 9 years older than this one

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:22AM (#40854551)

          I understand what you're saying, but you are very much scaremongering here.

          The differences are:
          o The US reactor is not on in a tsunami zone.
          o The US reactor is geologically stable.
          o The US reactor's batteries are above sea level.
          o The US reactor's generator is above sea level.
          o The US reactor has at least three generators, shared between several other reactors, available on call.
          o The IAEA repeatedly gave bad marks to the Japanese reactor, for all of the elements which failed. They have given good marks to the US reactor.

          Basically, while it certainly is a reactor to keep our eye on simply because of its age, it has none of the risks which directly and/or indirectly initiated and exacerbated the situation in Japan. Basically they are the same design but the US reactor not only has none of the same risks, all of the known risks have been intelligently mitigated. Whereas in Japan, they were literally ignored.

          As such, a comparison without providing such details only serves to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt and scaremonger without any rational justification whatsoever.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by dunkelfalke (91624)

            Well, as with Spanish inquisition, accidents are seldom expected. That's why they are called accidents.

            • by sjames (1099)

              Nobody's expecting an accident involving a paperclip puncturing a hole between universes causing a matter-antimater reaction that destroys all reality either, therefore we must devote 100% of our resources to preventing it, because like the Spanish Inquisition accidents are seldom expected. That's why they are called accidents.

              • You seem to expect it, making your point very much moot.
                My point was that people say "no such kind of accident/circumstances can ever happen here" and think "no kind of accident/circumstances can ever happen here". Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

  • "Activists" eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeathToBill (601486) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @04:34AM (#40853627) Journal

    These things are always well-spun, from either side. For "strong opposition from local residents and activists" read "strong opposition from activists and the local residents they've frightened out of their wits."

    Activists *exist* to provide strong opposition to things. You never see something happening "despite luke-warm opposition from activists." The volume of their opposition does not make them right.

    • Re:"Activists" eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:43AM (#40854715) Homepage

      This has to be the biggest straw man ever seen on Slashdot. Every debate about anything nuclear related always gets dragged back to the foaming-at-the-mouth screaming fear-mongering lunatic anti-nuclear extremists.

      I agree that the volume of their opposition does not make them right, but your attack of them (or rather a straw man version of them) doesn't make you right either. Debate the actual points being made.

      I actually joined some anti-nuclear protesters in Tokyo. They were noisy but clam and rational. They set up a family area away from the shouting for people with children and the elderly to join in. They made some good points. Care to debate them?

      • by sycodon (149926)

        OK,

        The point is that they had a minor glitch, no one was hurt and nothing was damaged.

        They figured out what happened, fixed it, and now are going to restart it.

        What is the debate? There is no debate other than "activists" don't want it restarted because of their irrational fear of nuclear power.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The problem wasn't the minor glitch, it was the engineers that ignored the safety problems after the glitch. The only thing that gives me second thoughts about nuclear power is the human element. People cutting corners or not doing their jobs properly are the most dangerous part of nuclear power.

          • by sycodon (149926)

            Evidently, since the safety problems have been identified and the facility has passed safety inspections, then the "glitch" was fixed.

            So what was the debate again?

            And if you are at all involved in software, you know better than to put all your trust in it.

            • by fgouget (925644)

              Evidently, since the safety problems have been identified and the facility has passed safety inspections, then the "glitch" was fixed.

              So what was the debate again?

              Based on the article it's not clear that the defective senior engineers who hid and ignored (i.e. did not fix) the problem have been replaced. As long as that's the case the reactor safety is still compromised: the human component is the weakest link in the security chain (it's the cause of Three Miles Island, Chernobyl and Fuckushima).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, they could not have made good points as those do not exist (aside from human ignorance and greed - on both sides of the nuclear "debate").

        There is no alternative to nuclear power - no one cared enough to get fusion going. 50% nuclear power is probably minimum required such that renewables can bring in the rest. Aside from nuclear, there is no other non-fossil fuel baseload power source that can replace fossil fuels. And fossil fuels are by far more dangerous. We just can't see it, like a deer caug

      • All clam and rational, eh? Well, well.

        sycodon largely beat me to it, I think. There is no reason given *not* to restart the thing *except* the opposition of activists (and, of course, local residents). I think I engaged with that point pretty well.

        There was a failure. It caused no damage, no dangerous situation, no injury, no death, no environmental damage. It has been safely generating power for many years. It was shut down as a precaution. They've since found there is no reason not to restart it.

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>They set up a family area away from the shouting for people with children and the elderly to join in. They made some good points. Care to debate them?

        I bet the elderly were just there because they couldn't run their AC due to the nuclear plant shutdowns. :p

        Nuclear activists are generally a few batteries short of a full charge anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @04:37AM (#40853651)

    They had to restart because there is a need for more electricity. I wish people started to realize this when they block new generators.
    They are safer, and you aren't exactly going to consume a lot less, are you? Thus either you are forcing us to hold older plants open for a lot longer than intended, or you allow us to make a new and better plant.

    By stopping new ones from being made, you are only making it more dangerous for everybody.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by BlueStrat (756137)

      They had to restart because there is a need for more electricity. I wish people started to realize this when they block new generators. They are safer, and you aren't exactly going to consume a lot less, are you? Thus either you are forcing us to hold older plants open for a lot longer than intended, or you allow us to make a new and better plant.

      By stopping new ones from being made, you are only making it more dangerous for everybody

      I know this will likely be modded down, but screw it. It's the truth.

      Well, get ready for blackouts and brownouts across the whole US, as the Obama administration is forcing coal-fired generator plants to shut down by drastically increasing regulation-compliance costs. This year, 57 plants will be shut down with nothing to replace the lost capacity. That's 8.5% of total US power generation capacity! Summers and winters are going to be increasingly-lethal seasons for the poor and working-poor.

      Meanwhile, deman

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        And not a single link to back up your claims. Obama has expanded gun rights since going in to office. Looking through your post history, every single one of them are frantic pro-gun, pro-military posts. Maybe you should go outside once in a while.

        • by sycodon (149926)

          "And not a single link to back up your claims. "

          Right Back At Ya

        • by BlueStrat (756137)

          And not a single link to back up your claims.

          http://peakoil.com/publicpolicy/record-number-of-coal-fired-generators-to-be-shut-down-in-2012/ [peakoil.com]

          http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_00.shtml [un.org]

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_21 [wikipedia.org]

          Apologies for not including links. I know that doing a simple Google search is beyond many people's intellectual capabilities thanks to teacher's unions' grip on US schools.

          Obama has expanded gun rights since going in to office.

          Now that's just a bad joke.

          Strat

          • I've been trying to stay out of politics lately, but my ethics and concern for my country require me to reply to your posts.

            In the last decade or so (after 9/11, not coincidentally) there has been a rash of cult-like right-wing nationalism and tribal "us versus them". It existed prior to this millennium, but it's been getting worse, and more concerning. The rhetoric is, in my opinion, becoming dangerous and increasingly ridiculous, and if not checked, may lead to severe consequences for our nation and the

            • by BlueStrat (756137)

              I've been trying to stay out of politics lately, but my ethics and concern for my country require me to reply to your posts.

              In the last decade or so (after 9/11, not coincidentally) there has been a rash of cult-like right-wing nationalism and tribal "us versus them". It existed prior to this millennium, but it's been getting worse, and more concerning. The rhetoric is, in my opinion, becoming dangerous and increasingly ridiculous, and if not checked, may lead to severe consequences for our nation and the world.

              You can't reason with a cult member, and likewise, with an ultra-nationalist or conspiracy theorist. The best you can hope for is that a method of cult recovery "deprogramming" comes along, or that a significant shift in the dialog marginalizes the cult.

              Still, even though you won't, I encourage you (and anyone reading this who thinks as you do) to step back, get a look at the big picture, and try making friends with some people outside your echo chamber, before your rantings move any further from merely extreme into the "bat-guano insane" category. Sorry for being so blunt, but this is what conservatives would call "tough love".

              For the record:

              Obama is not a socialist communist fascist Muslim Brotherhood member of the Trilateral U.N. Knights Templar.

              Progressives/Liberals are not your enemy, nor are they the enemy of the state. They merely favor a different approach than you do for government's role in society. They do NOT believe any less than you do in freedom or democracy. Deal with it.

              When teachers make as much as military contractors or wall street traders, you can talk to me about teacher's unions. Until then, no dice.

              Despite your signature's attempt to demean the concept, some ideas ARE so good they need to be mandatory. I'm sure you've heard that absolute freedom destroys freedom (it's true). Your freedom to pollute the air must knuckle to my freedom to breathe clean air, and so on.

              Really, my friend, come down out of the trees. And ask some of your friends to turn off the hate mongers on the TV and radio, and come down out of the trees with you. Please do it soon, so we can avoid the less pleasant consequences that are coming if this radical polarization and crazy fear mongering continues. You don't need lots of guns and ammo. You need balance.

              Your characterizations and ad hominems show extreme condescension, arrogance, and intellectual elitism, not to mention a huge dose of hubris and disregard for truth, intellectual honesty, and reality. Attitudes and beliefs such as yours are a huge part of the problem the US is in.

              It's obvious we are at polar opposites and will never agree, therefor I must strive to expose those kinds of beliefs and the ideology that drives them for the shams that they are and defeat them in the public arena wherever and whe

      • The UN boogeyman is just that, but your comment about housing workers in the factories reminds me of joking that the new super walmart being built in town was going to have apartments for the employees upstairs. I expected "yikes, scary" but what I got was "that makes sense!" which is even scarier coming from fellow Americans. Don't be fooled: people are for more complacent than you would like to think, and that was a decade ago.
      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Buy guns. Lots and lots of guns. Hide caches of guns and ammo in multiple locations along with reloading equipment and supplies. Better do it quick while it's still possible.

        You will NEVER have as many guns as the government.

        Plus they've got tanks and stuff. And Apache helicopters. People aren't worried about how many ammo caches you've got when they've got Apache helicopters.

        • by BlueStrat (756137)

          You will NEVER have as many guns as the government.

          Fortunately, the military is made up of US citizens, a large fraction of which will not comply with orders to fire on US citizens or confiscate weapons, round up people into camps, etc. They understand that their oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, includes political leaders.

          http://oathkeepers.org/oath/ [oathkeepers.org]

          Strat

          • I guess you never heard of Stanley Milgram and his little experiment.

            • by BlueStrat (756137)

              Fortunately, the military is made up of US citizens, a large fraction of which will not comply with orders to fire on US citizens or confiscate weapons, round up people into camps, etc. They understand that their oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, includes political leaders.

              http://oathkeepers.org/oath/ [oathkeepers.org] [oathkeepers.org]

              I guess you never heard of Stanley Milgram and his little experiment.

              I guess you never checked the Oathkeepers link I provided, ignoring that which doesn't fit your preconceived notions.

              Good work.

              Strat

              • I did. It is easy to be an internet tough guy. But when push comes to shove, things can change very quickly. Especially when the one who gives orders is "one of their team" and the victims-to-be are branded as "unpatriotic traitor commies". So, get real, dude. I've seen many people breaking whatever oaths they made. The loudest and most patriotic ones were the first to break them. Not preconceived notions, just some experience you are lacking.

      • Parent comment is not interesting, is insane. We have witnessed hundreds of times that the UN is absolutely unable to twist even a little tiny bit USA's arm, even when doing so would be in USA middle long term self interest.

        • by BlueStrat (756137)

          Parent comment is not interesting, is insane. We have witnessed hundreds of times that the UN is absolutely unable to twist even a little tiny bit USA's arm, even when doing so would be in USA middle long term self interest.

          Except for the *fact* that Agenda 21 "sustainable development" programs are currently being implemented in cities and towns across the US, along with destruction of private property rights and personal gun ownership rights

          The difference between this and other UN programs and initiatives being that US Liberal/Progressives are on-board politically & ideologically with Agenda 21, as their goals are mostly the same.

          Strat

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      I don't want to stop new power plants being made, I just want them to be non-nuclear. Instead of spending billions on a new nuclear plant and then billions cleaning up after it why not just build something cleaner and cheaper? Oh, that's right, it won't generate as much profit for friends of the people in charge...

      • by dcw3 (649211)

        Oh, that's right, it won't generate as much power, because no current technology comes close

        Fixed that for you

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Are you stupid? Exactly what technology is available which is "cleaner and cheaper" than nuclear?

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      I wish people started to realize this when they block new generators.

      You're all mixed up.

      I WANT new reactors, I think they're a good thing. I just don't want them anywhere near my house, that's all.

  • ... it was revealed that the reactor and its emergency generator had temporarily lost power ...

    So does this actually pose a safety risk? I thought that all modern reactors were protected by passive safety mechanisms (i.e., not requiring external power).

    • Re:Safety? (Score:5, Informative)

      by subreality (157447) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:15AM (#40853849)

      ... thought that all modern reactors were protected by passive safety mechanisms ...

      Kori-1 is a PWR from 1978 and like most reactors currently in service, it is a generation II design. These have many passive safety features, but they are generally not fully passively safe.

      Some Gen-III reactors (1990s tech) and most Gen-III+ reactors (2000s tech) have full passive safety, in addition to many other safety improvements like simplified designs, better containment, better redundancy, etc. Gen-IV designs (future) step it up to inherent safety - for example pebble beds (meltdown is impossible because thermal expansion stops the reaction even if all cooling strategies fail) or my favorite, the LFTR [wikipedia.org] (liquid fuel - you can't melt down when you're already melted, and thermal runaway just drains it into a basin in a noncritical configuration; and it's an unpressurized design, which eliminates tons of problems).

      So does this actually pose a safety risk?

      Yes - like everything worth doing in life, there is always risk. In this case the risk is that the reactor requires water to be actively pumped for a while after shutdown. The risk is generally acceptable: a failure like the one that happened a few months back doesn't cause a sudden catastrophic failure. There is considerable thermal mass in the water inside the reactor so the temperature rise is gradual. In event of a failure you have days to get some power back online. In the case of the failure a few months back, the power was back within minutes and there was little chance that they wouldn't be able to manage it in time. The incident wasn't an acute safety risk; but it was a failure that shouldn't have happened in the first place, so it's somewhat worrying.

      The problem is if you have a disaster like the Japan earthquake: if the power is knocked out and all your infrastructure is too crippled to fix the grid or truck in some generators; then things go sideways. These are low frequency events, but they happen, which is why in my opinion we need to start building modern reactors so we can decommission these old Gen-II relics.

      • Re:Safety? (Score:5, Informative)

        by tp1024 (2409684) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @06:38AM (#40854221)

        Actually, the Gen III+ is Soviet 1980ies tech, but don't let Westinghouse hear that. The Soviet Union published its AES-88 design in 1988 and handed it over for review in Germany - after Chernobyl, this was called for. The AES-88 is a passive design and predates the AP-600 by 10 years. There were several other designs as well all designed until about the time of the break-up of the Soviet Union. (After this some 2-3 million people starved/froze to death or otherwise perished in the worst economic crisis the world has never heard of. Life expectancy in Russia dropped to levels not seen since a certain Josef Stalin. In short: They had other problems.)

        More designs followed much later. The latest being the AES-2006. Which adds a core catcher and is more economical than the AES-88, without sacrifying the passive safety, as it was in the AES-92. The AES-92 had a large pool of cooling water to provide emergency cooling without electricity for 12 hours or so, but no heat removal systems to recondense and recycle the cooling water. AFAIK those that have been build were refitted since, but I might be wrong. The AES-2006 also has hydrogen catalyzers by design, I'm not sure if this was the case in the older ones.

        (Please note: Russian designes distinguish between the reactor/power system and the power plant design as a whole. The AES-2006 design is implemented in all of the VVER-1200 power stations, for example.)

        Better still are the breeder reactors, which are fully passive by design. The BN-600 is still operating, three BN-800 are under construction, two in China, one in Russia. The main problem is, of course, the flamable coolant (sodium). A lead cooled commercial reactor is supposed to be finished in 2017.

        To make a long story short: If you're looking for the latest in nuclear power, look at Russia. (And yes, this came as a surprise to me as well.)

      • by makomk (752139)

        for example pebble beds (meltdown is impossible because thermal expansion stops the reaction even if all cooling strategies fail)

        Weren't those the ones that had all kinds of problems with the pebbles breaking down due to hot spots and poor thermal control, contaminating the reactor with radioactive particles that made it hard to decommission and that potentially leaked into the atmosphere in case of failure?

        • Yes. They solved the meltdown problem but created a bunch of different problems, which is why this is a potential future technology instead of a current one. It was just an example of inherent safety. These problems are just some of the reasons that I think LFTR is a better technology to pursue, though LFTR also needs a ton of engineering before it will be ready.

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @04:41AM (#40853669)
    Just don't let any Iguanas near the reactor. We all know what happened with Japan! Worst of all there might be a bad US remake of the movie staring Matthew Broderick. Just safer all round to keep lizards away from any radiation.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Actually Godzilla was created by US undersea nuclear testing. The original movie (the Japanese version, the English dub was substantially re-written) was a reaction to the horrors of the atomic bombings and the continued stockpiling of weapons by the USSR and US. Back then atomic annihilation of the entire world was a real possibility, and Godzilla was the embodiment of that.

  • This year, they'll "have" to restart to avoid a choice between heat affected lives, including lost, and industry losses. Next year and the year after that they'll have fewer excuses.
  • It's the people who run it... most often the people who run it without consideration of safe operation.

    Just as in the case of the BP oil spill and of the Fukushima, the common thread is someone refusing to spend the money on safety. Had they done so, neither one of those would be a topic for discussion.

    Blame needs to be laid squarely on those decision makers and not on the rather successful and viable technology of nuclear energy. Nuclear works. It can, and mostly is, done safely.

    Worse, though, is the al

    • No, it’s a combination of tech and humans. The problem is that the old reactors rely far too much on humans to keep things safe, and even with 100% competent and scrupulous people, they could be considered too dangerous. Newer reactor designs reduce the chance of a mishap when the reactor staff screws up, and also reduce the effects of such mishaps. The idea that technology can make these things 100% foolproof is delusional. But by the same token, dismissing nuclear power (or worse: arguing agains
      • Safe? In the 20th century, coal power killed thousands of times as many people as nuclear power - even if you include Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Sorry, but I don't have time to look up the safety rating of natural gas.)
  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @06:15AM (#40854085)

    Sure, this is pie-in-the-sky thinking. But imagine what would happen if activists would not protest *against* the restart because of safety problems, but *for* better safety systems before the reactor is to be restarted.

    They might actually end up doing something good for a change. Of course, this would require a much more cerebral process than a pavlovian reflex. You would actually have to understand what happened and understand what needs to be done about it. Finally, you'd need to protest for some specific activity - not just against a very general one - which is certainly not going to be a nice catchy phrase.

    This case calls for a thorough investigation of the generator failure and review of all generators. Perhaps (actually quite likely) the addition of more emergency generators to provide for redundancy and finally the investigation of all similar reactors. (Although Kori-1 seems to be unique in Korea, while the other reactors in Kori are more advanced Westinghouse designs. So this may or may not limit the applicability.)

    Obviously, not a nice catchy phrase, but much more useful.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      But imagine what would happen if activists would not protest *against* the restart because of safety problems, but *for* better safety systems before the reactor is to be restarted.

      That is one of the things that people in Japan have been asking for. The problem is that to be really safe the bar has to be set so high that no reactor would pass it. For example the 11/3 quake was a magnitude 9, and most Japanese reactors are only certified to magnitude 7.3. If the epicentre were close to one of them it would not be certified to survive it without the reactor cracking, the control rod mechanism failing or the cooling system being damaged and so forth.

      Japan is mostly earthquake proof, but

      • by tp1024 (2409684)

        Are you worried, right now, that a stone or other heavy item will drop on your head from 50m height? No? That's probably because there is nothing to suggest that such an item is anywhere 50m above your head.

        If I go to a place a bit of a way down the road, there may actually be that possibility, but not here. Hence, I don't need to worry about this. It's the same with the earthquake. A mag 9 earthquake cannot happen in Japan for tectonic reasons.The mechanism depends on having a subduction zone in the immedi

  • it is very simple and straightforward to cover heat wave peaks with solar energy. Demand from air conditioning is proportional to production from solar panels and with sun intensity. It sounds really stupid to use nuclear, coal, or any other type of electricity)for air-conditioning peaks.
  • Why don't they just construct additional pylons?

  • Whose fault is it that we have so many old reactors on our planet? Why do we have so many reactors using old designs when we know how to make safer ones? Why so many aging power plants?

    Maybe if we didn't have so many anti-anything nuclear protesters we would have new, safer ones and these things would have been torn down years ago.
  • "Soon Hwang, a nuclear scientist at Seoul National University, says that a thorough government investigation found that the pressure vessel is safe. However, he adds that a more democratic process is needed to get a consensus on the reactor from local residents."

    A consensus on the reactor from local residents? That would never happen.
  • Mark my words! They will start it up, run it as poorly as possible, come very close to disasters that could have global effects, and then ask for some kind of concession in exchange for shutting it back down. They have repeated this "be bad, then ask for something in exchange for stopping the bad behavior" trick at least a dozen times that I can remember.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

Working...