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TABLE 1 Status of Nuclear Power Plants in Korea as of December 2002

 

Reactor Sites

Gori

Yonggwang

Uljin

Wolsung

Number in operation

4

6

4

4

Number under construction

2

Reactor type

PWR

PWR

PWR

CANDU

Korea’s demand for uranium and nuclear fuel cycle service has continuously increased. The radioactive waste and spent fuel has also been rapidly accumulated, and radioactive waste management is one of the important concerns in the Korean nuclear community. A new radioactive waste management plan was proposed by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy in January 1997 and was approved by the Atomic Energy Commission in September 1998. According to the new plan, a low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste repository will be constructed by 2008, and spent fuel will be stored at each nuclear power plant site until interim storage facilities are constructed in 2016.The site-securing program is currently underway.

SPENT FUEL MANAGEMENT

The effective management of spent fuel remains a challenge for the future of the nuclear industry. The current at-reactor (AR) storage capacities of PWRs and CANDUs are 4996 tU and 4807 tU, respectively. The cumulative amount of spent fuel by the year 2002 reached about 2893 tU from the existing PWRs and 3089 tU from the CANDUs. Using the above to generate a long-term projection, it can be estimated that approximately 11,000 tU and 20,000 tU of spent fuel would be accumulated by the years 2010 and 2020, respectively. The accumulated amount of spent fuel and the expected year of losing full core reserve in each power station in Korea are shown in Table 2, as of December 2002.

The policy for spent fuel management in Korea is based on the guidelines provided by the Korea Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which is the nation’s top policy-making body on nuclear energy. The government has not yet established a definite policy on whether to recycle or to permanently dispose of its spent fuel for long-term management. The AEC set a goal for spent fuel interim storage as a mid- and long-term expedient. The government effort to construct a centralized interim storage facility for spent fuel and a repository for radioactive waste packages had come to nothing due to strong dissension about the site acquisition from the local communities. After the Guleop Island Project was



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