Early retirement for Kori 1

16 June 2015

Kori 460xXXX
Kori 1 is the first of four units at the site, in south-west of South Korea

South Korea's oldest operating reactor unit will close in 2017 without a licence extension, said operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP).

Kori 1 is a 576 MWe pressurized water reactor that started operation since 1978. It was refurbished in 2007 and approved to run until 2017. A subsequent relicensing process could have taken Kori 1 to 2027, but KHNP said today it had dropped the application.

Given its status as the country's oldest unit, the reactor's safety came under close scrutiny after the Fukushima accident of 2011 and this was intensified after a safety-related incident in 2012 was found to have been covered up. Nevertheless the South Korean regulator, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, had approved KHNP's improvements to the plant's engineering and operational procedures as well as workers' safety culture.

KHNP is a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), which is owned 51% by the government, and it was on advice from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy that KHNP ended its bid for longer operation, calling the move "a strategic decision for the long term development of the nuclear industry."

According to Yonhap News, company CEO Cho Seok wrote to employees, "Some may regret the decision to shut Kori 1, although its safety was guaranteed, but the nuclear industry is now faced with a paradigm shift." KHNP said Seok would meet plant workers to explain the decision.

When it shuts down in June 2017, Kori 1 will become South Korea's first nuclear power unit to enter the decommissioning phase, which KHNP said would represent an opportunity and a challenge.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News