Five out of nine members of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission
handled agenda items through an appointment agreement system during the Moon administration… The Yoon Seok-yeol government, which took office in May of last year due to the slowdown,
declared that it would completely abolish the Moon Jae-in government’s nuclear phase-out policy and build a ‘nuclear powerhouse.’ The new government is working to normalize nuclear power plants by raising the nuclear power plant operation rate, which had fallen to 65% in 2018, to the 81% range and promoting the resumption of construction of Shinhanul Units 3 and 4. However, due to the spikes planted by the Moon Jae-in administration to phase out nuclear power, the normalization of the nuclear power industry is not progressing as quickly as expected. Let’s look at the obstacles to the recovery of the nuclear power industry. [Editor’s note ]
The 180th plenary meeting of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) held on the 27th of last month. In deliberating the operating permit for Shin Hanul Unit 2, which is virtually nearing completion with a completion rate of 99.6%, Committee Member A mentioned ‘response to aircraft collisions at nuclear power plants.’ Aircraft crash response is an issue that delayed the review of Shin Hanul Unit 1 in 2021. At the time, there was criticism in the nuclear power industry that the process was delayed by assuming a situation that occurred once every 10 million years. On this day, Committee Member A asked whether coastal erosion on the east coast was reflected in the evaluation of the Shin Hanul site, saying it was a ‘personal curiosity’.
Committee member B took issue with the closure of the Uljin Jukbyeon emergency runway near Shinhanul and the frequency of aircraft accidents. Commissioner B also mentioned the possibility of fire in the optical fiber cable used in Shin Hanul. An official from the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety said, “The difference between optical cables and electric cables is how they transmit internal signals. “All of them have guaranteed fire resistance,” he said.
As some members pointed out problems, the agreement on the operating permit for Shin-Hanul Unit 2 failed to be reached that day, and the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission decided to discuss the operating permit for Shin-Hanul Unit 2 again at a general meeting on September 7, but there is a high possibility that it will be delayed again.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission under the agreement system… Some committee members delayed approval
Public institutions related to nuclear power plants, including the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, which has various licensing rights related to nuclear power plants, are still staffed by personnel appointed by the Moon Jae-in administration. The industry believes that the Moon Jae-in administration’s appointment of a large number of nuclear phase-out personnel to related organizations right before the change of government is an obstacle to the recovery of the nuclear power industry. Committee members A and B, who pointed out problems at the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission meeting last month, were also appointed by the Moon Jae-in administration.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission has a total of 9 members (2 standing members and 7 non-standing members), of which 5, more than half, were appointed by the Moon Jae-in administration. One of the four people appointed after the change of government was also recommended by the opposition Democratic Party of Korea.
Nuclear Safety and Security Commission meetings are usually conducted by consensus, but if there are significant differences of opinion among members, the agenda is put to a vote after obtaining the consent of two-thirds of the members present. A majority vote must be in favor to obtain an operating permit. For this reason, the more people there are in favor of nuclear phase-out, the slower the decision-making process will inevitably be. Additionally, among those appointed by the Moon Jae-in administration, the person with the most remaining term in office will end his or her term at the end of 2024.
During the approval review process for Shin Hanul Unit 1 in 2021, Commissioner C said that the operating permit should be delayed on the grounds that there was no preparation for ‘aircraft terrorism’. When a government official attending the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission at the time said that the probability was low, member Lee also mentioned North Korea’s long-range artillery attack. Member D argued that the standards stipulating that nuclear power plants can withstand the maximum flood damage that has occurred in 50 years are inadequate. In the end, Shin Hanul Unit 1 went through 11 repeated meetings and was only able to begin official operation in December of last year.
Some analysts say that the completion of Shin Hanul Unit 2 may be delayed due to this structure of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission. The government planned to complete the completion of Shin Hanul Unit 2 within the year, but due to delays in administrative procedures such as the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission’s permit review, it is expected to be postponed to next year.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission received a C grade, the lowest score, in last year’s government evaluation. As for improvements먹튀검증, the government stated, “In order to restore the nuclear power plant ecosystem, it is necessary to extend the lifespan of existing nuclear power plants and make decisions on licensing new nuclear power plants, but controversy over safety continues due to a lack of efforts to communicate with the public.”
The head of a public nuclear institution announces a nuclear phase-out.
Not only the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, but also the heads of public institutions related to nuclear power plants, are still appointed by the previous government. Representative examples include Kim Je-nam, chairman of the Korea Nuclear Safety Foundation, and Kim Seok-cheol, president of the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.
Chairman Kim, who is considered a representative figure in nuclear phase-out, served as the chairman of the Nuclear Energy Transition Committee at the Justice Party and as senior secretary for civil society at the Blue House under the Moon administration before taking office at the foundation. In last year’s audit of government affairs, he caused friction by expressing his intention to reject ruling party lawmakers’ demands for his resignation. Director Kim served as the director of the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety and Technology for three years from July 2018 during the Moon Jae-in administration, and was inaugurated as the director of the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety and Technology in December 2021. His term runs until December 2024.
The Moon Jae-in administration also attempted to reappoint Jeong Jae-hoon, then president of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, for a fourth term in March last year, just before the launch of the new government. If Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, Korea’s only nuclear power plant operator, does not move, restoration of the nuclear power plant ecosystem will inevitably be delayed. Former President Chung was unable to receive approval from the new government, so his reappointment was canceled. Former CEO Jeong is on trial for his involvement in the economic feasibility manipulation case of Wolseong Unit 1, which is considered a representative example of the nuclear phase-out policy.
An official in the nuclear power plant industry said, “If people who run counter to the current government’s nuclear power policy take positions as heads of related organizations, policy misalignment is inevitable.” “It’s a catch situation,” he said.