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Power News Science

South Korea To Restart Its Oldest Nuclear Reactor 129

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."
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South Korea To Restart Its Oldest Nuclear Reactor

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:30AM (#40853609)

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

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

    by DeathToBill ( 601486 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:34AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:37AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:50AM (#40853731)

    This sounds like crap. What we need to do is reduce the need for energy. We need to look at the times in which we are running out of power and figure out how we can reduce consumption of power during these times. This might be as simple are upgrading air conditioning units to newer more efficient models in more places, shutting off air conditioning in largely unoccupied buildings (such as office buildings during the night and houses during the day), not utilising washers, dryers, and other energy demanding appliances, etc.

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:15AM (#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 Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:04AM (#40854377)
    The problems with "saving energy" is that it reduces your standard of living for next to no benefits.

    If we are going to truly have an increase in your standard of living we need more power plants and better technology. The "green" movement wants us to take away centuries of progress and live worse just because they think it's "better".
  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:26AM (#40854587) Journal
    I have actually worked for a company that focuses on energy strategies and saw one of their studies result. In a modern country (IIRC the results were from UK) with reasonable architecture and infrastructure, at a high cost, you could save ~25% of energy, mainly through better insulation and smarter heating/AC.

    On the other hand, we have reached the plateau of the peak oil since 2007 (production stopped to increase and prices skyrocketed). THIS is the challenge we will have to face in the two next decades. Electrical vehicles will be needed. Not just personal cars, but also trucks, construction vehicles (my bet is that most will be wired), agricultural vehicles, possibly planes. That will take a lot more than the mere 25% we could save for a budget that would exceed the construction of 25% supplemental production capabilities.

    The best governmental strategy right now is :
    - save the energy that can be saved cheaply or even for free (~5-10%, actually probably less in well managed countries)

    - build lots of nuclear plants NOW that oil and energy to build them is cheap (compared to fuel costs in 10 years). Make them modern, make them safe. Make it possible that they use plutonium : it is a fuel that is basically free, foreign countries without the tech will even pay you to take care of their.

    - invest a lot in research. Make a courageous choice : do you believe in solar energy or fusion power? Choose one and invest massively. And remember : if a trillion dollars could give you Iraq's oil reserves, the result of these projects can give you a durable amount of energy that is far greater. Investment should be of a comparable scale.

    - if you live in US : do not shut down tokamaks. This is one of the dumbest long-term move. Realize this : in 20 years, there will be fusion power. The first to have it will either build plants for the whole world or even sell electricity directly. And China wants that badly.
  • Re:"Activists" eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:43AM (#40854715) Homepage Journal

    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 h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @09:11AM (#40854959)

    So forget about the CO2, you know how much other garbage coal plants spew?

  • by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @09:48AM (#40855363)

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

  • Re:"Activists" eh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @09:52AM (#40855405)

    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.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger