South Korea’s Wolsong No.1 nuclear reactor may close permanently over safety concerns

11 January 2015 (Last Updated January 11th, 2015 18:30)

The recent hacking incident at South Korea's nuclear operator could mean the Wolsong reactor be permanently shutdown due to safety concerns, according to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

The recent hacking incident at South Korea’s nuclear operator could mean the Wolsong reactor be permanently shutdown due to safety concerns, according to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

Reuters quoted Kim Hye-jung, one of the nine commissioners to review an application to recommence the country’s second oldest reactor, as saying: "The operator failed to prevent it (the hack) and they don’t know how much data has been leaked.

"If the old reactor is still allowed to continue to run, it will just hike risks."

In the next few days, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission will begin reviewing the application if the Wolsong No1’s lifespan should be extended by a decade to 2022.

Around five of the nine commissioners contacted by Reuters have expressed doubts about the safety aspect.

The fate of Wolsong No.1 will decide the future of other reactors in the country, including that of the oldest reactor Kori No.1.

"If the old reactor is still allowed to continue to run, it will just hike risks."

Kori No.1’s lifespan had been extended by a decade to 2017.

The 679-MW Wolsong No.1 was closed in 2012 following the completion of a three decade lifespan.

Currently, nuclear plants meet one-third of the country’s power requirements.

If the nuclear plants are closed, the country will be forced to boost fuel imports and depend on liquefied natural gas and thermal coal plants for power generation, reports the news agency.

Since late 2012, the country has increased fuel imports after the closure of some reactors.

With growing dependence on conventional sources for power, there is the risk of greenhouse gas emissions increasing. This makes it harder for the country to reach its goal of reducing emissions by 30% by 2020.

In December 2014, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd, the operator of the Wolsong No. 1, claimed that its computer system was breached, though all the reactors were declared as being safe.

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd, which is part of the state-run firm Korea Electric Power Corp, has been planning to recommence operations of Wolsong No.1.

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power operates 23 reactors.