S. Korean operator halts construction of 2 nuke reactors despite protests

2017.07.14 14:22:14 | 2017.07.14 16:18:48
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Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Corporation (KHNP), which operates the country’s nuclear power plants, in a surprise board meeting to deceive protesting union Friday endorsed the government plan to suspend construction of the two new nuclear reactors Shin Kori 5 and 6.

As the government announced earlier, the construction of the two reactors will be suspended for three months, during which a civilian-led committee will study the feasibility of stopping the $7.5 billion project whose construction is already 30 percent underway.

KHNP held a blitz board meeting Friday morning at a hotel distant from its headquarters in Gyeongju, southeast of Seoul, to avoid a physical confrontation with protesting workers.

Earlier it announced that the board meeting was cancelled.

Last month President Moon Jae-in announced a plan to wean the country off nuclear power that currently is responsible for a third of electricity supply to go completely nuclear free by 2040. The oldest Kori 1 reactor was permanently decommissioned and the construction of the additional reactors put to stop.

The hasty decision has been heavily contested by the workers, industry, and scholars at home and abroad.

The union threatened to sue the board for dereliction of duty for reversing a costly state project in a single board meeting.

The Office for Government Policy Coordination will soon create a commission of nine members that will conduct a public assessment and a civil jury will give a final judgment three months later. The government previously said it would leave out industry experts.

KHNP estimates the temporary shutdown could cause a business loss of some 100 billion won ($88 million) including a wage loss of 1.2 billion won for the three month period. More than 1,000 workers from 1,700 suppliers had been engaged in the construction.

By Ko Jae-man

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]

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