‘Nuclear power is a must for Korea’
By Park Si-soo
The Korea Nuclear Energy Promotion Agency (KONEPA) said Monday it will take a leading role in promoting the safety of nuclear power and generating plants.
The agency has organized a variety of campaigns to dispel the strong anxiety among politicians and activists who don’t rule out the possibility that a radiation leak in March last year at the tsunami-hit Japanese nuclear plant could take place on Korean soil.
Fueling such worries was malfunctions at domestic nuclear power plants and lax supervision by authorities, confirmed in an investigation. These findings galvanized many activists and citizens to join forces to call for the closure of nuclear power plants in Korea.
But KONEPA says it’s still a dominant belief that nuclear material is the safest, most reliable and cost-efficient source of power generation and all the mishaps that took place recently are preventable.
“Nuclear power is a must, not optional,” KONEPA said in a statement. “Korea is an energy-strapped country that has no oil or gas deposits. Nearly 96 percent of the energy we consume annually is imported. In such a situation, we should increase the use of nuclear power to stand on our own feet when it comes to energy supply.”
The agency warned that an excessive reliance on imported energy could pose a grave threat to national security if exporters embargo shipping for any reason.
Last year alone, the country imported gas and oil worth $171 billion, an equivalent to Korea’s combined annual exports of semiconductors, cars, ships and mobile phones. Oil and gas imports are expected to rise as the country continues to eat up electricity lavishly.
The government is trying hard to diversify energy sources. In a roadmap on securing energy supplies, the government said it will reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels for power generation to 61 percent from the current 83 percent, while increasing its reliance on nuclear power to 27.8 percent from the current 15.9 percent. It also moves to generate nearly 11 percent of electricity using renewable energy sources by the deadline.
KONEPA underscored that nuclear power is eco-friendly.
“It costs very little, is very safe, and generates very little waste,” it said. “No other energy source but nuclear material can supply such a large amount of electricity stably while creating little toxicity to the environment.”