South Korea’s nuclear watchdog officially decided to retire the country’s oldest nuclear reactor Kori No.1 located on southern coast of the country after 40 years of service as of midnight June 19. Disassembly would start from 2022 after the spent fuels are completely cooled off and frozen to solids.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission on Friday approved permanent shutdown of Kori No. 1 nuclear reactor run and supervised by state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. Based on the final decision by the nuclear safety control board, the nuclear power plant operator will stop the operation of its Kori No. 1 reactor at midnight on June 19 and start cooling the nuclear power generator for decommissioning in 2022. Remaining nuclear fuel left in the reactor after the shutdown will be transferred to a storage vault.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power applied for permanent shutdown of its Kori No. 1 reactor to Nuclear Safety and Security Commission in June last year and the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety conducted three technical reviews until May this year to examine if the nuclear reactor could be safely managed after closing.
Kori No. 1 will be under a strict surveillance, equivalent to the level for other reactors in use, even after it is closed down as the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety had pointed out the reactor still has to improve its coolant system. The coolant system will be upgraded as a double-layer, and the reactor will undergo a regular monitoring process for permanent close-down to confirm its safety.
Kori No. 1 reactor that started commercial operation on April 29, 1978 was primarily designed to run for 30 years and close down in 2007, but its life was extended by another 10 years and has generated electricity for a total of 40 years.
By Ko Jae-man
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