The Gori No. 1 nuclear reactor in Busan's Gijang County, the nation's first nuclear power plant, will be closed permanently.
This is the first time for a nuclear reactor to be shut down for good. The Energy Committee under the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy held a meeting at the Lotte Seoul on June 12 and decided that it would make recommendations for a permanent shutdown to Gori No. 1 whose operational life is set in 2017.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, the state-run enterprise responsible for operation of the nuclear plant, will hold a board of directors meeting until the 18th and make final decisions on the matter. It is unlikely for the directors to reach a decision quite different from the ministry's judgment today.
The main reason for the government to shut it down was more political than anything else, given the consistent opposition by the city government and Busan's environmental advocacy groups, which made it hard for the government to renew the expiration date of the reactor twice. It may likely become an important precedent for other reactors as well that will face a choice between a permanent shutdown and a new lease on life after major repairs.
Although Gori No. 1 will cease to operate on June 18, 2017, the actual disassembly will begin by 2030 as it takes more than five years to cool and separate nuclear fuel while planning for disassembly. It will take another seven to eight years to clean up the site after taking it apart. The government estimated its disassembly cost at about 600 billion won. The spent nuclear fuel currently stored in Gori will be moved to nearby reactors including Gori Nos. 2-4 or Shin-Gori Nos. 1-6.