South Korean town to put nuclear plan to vote

file

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Fighting plans to build a nuclear power plant, a South Korean fishing village is holding a referendum Thursday, even though the government has warned the vote is illegal.

A site in Samcheok, 195 kilometers (120 miles) east of Seoul, was picked by the energy ministry after a previous city government applied in 2010 for a nuclear power facility. But attitudes have shifted since Japan's 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima.

Now, the city council has set up a volunteer committee to conduct a vote on whether Samcheok still wants the plant after election authorities refused to administer the referendum. Supporters of the nuclear plant say they will boycott.

South Koreans' pride in the country's nuclear power industry has eroded since scandals erupted last year over revelations hundreds of faulty components may have been used in reactors. That forced nearly half the country's 23 reactors to shut down.

Critics of nuclear reactors also became more vocal about safety after an April ferry sinking killed hundreds of people and fueled complaints the country emphasized profit over safety.

In Samcheok, about 39,000 out of 61,000 registered local voters signed up to take part, and about 70 percent were expected to vote, according to Chung Yeon-man, a committee member.

Nuclear energy supplied a quarter of South Korea's power last year, and the government wants to boost that to 29 percent by 2035. That would require adding 7 gigawatts of generating capacity, or the equivalent of five 1.4-gigawatt reactors.

The country also is starting to export nuclear technology. It won a $20 billion contract from the United Arab Emirates in 2009.

Most of South Korea's reactors are on the southeast coast. Samcheok is one of two cities designated as the next venue for nuclear plants and would be the first in Gangwon province.

Opponents in Samcheok, who say they worry about the impact on fishing, farming and tourism, gained a leg up in the latest mayoral election in June.

Kim Yang-ho, an independent who pledged to scrap nuclear plans, defeated the former mayor, 62 percent to 37 percent.

Since taking office, Kim has taken steps to withdraw the city's application. He says he wants to develop an alternative energy industry instead.

The national government appears unwilling to accept the referendum. The energy ministry told parliament last week it is open to talking to Samcheok but the vote will have no legal effect. A vice minister at the Ministry of Security and Public Administration said in the same hearing that trying to scrap the government's policy through a referendum is illegal.

Opponents of the Samcheok's nuclear plant say the former mayor's administration manipulated a public opinion survey before filing its application and no records of the survey have been found.

"Even though it is a government policy, residents' opinion is important," said Ahn Ho-sung, a 58-year-old former public servant who campaigned against nuclear power plants.

The original plan reflected "no opinion from the residents," said Ahn. "It is completely invalid."

Supporters say Samcheok needs to create more jobs.

The city was one of South Korea's largest mining communities, with more than 300,000 people, before a decline began in the 1980s. More than one-quarter of its 74,000 people are 65 or older.

"No company in Gangwon province can hire as many people as a nuclear power plant," said Lee Yeon-woo, 65, a retired public servant who leads a civic group with 300 Samcheok residents.

"I was born and grew up here and I witnessed how Samcheok went downhill," said Lee. "If we don't find another industry, half of it population will be gone."

Lee plans to skip Thursday's vote. He plans to file a complaint in court seeking to invalidate the poll.

"I have four children and we all live in Samcheok," Lee said. "If nuclear energy were really dangerous, I would not do this."

Subscribe to Nuclear Power International magazine

 

2014 Articles

Harvard Law School professor pays Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional

12/31/2014

Laurence H. Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard University and former mentor to Barack Obama, said in an article last week that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional.

3 SKorea workers die at nuke plant construction site

12/30/2014

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Three South Korean workers died Friday after apparently inhaling toxic gas at a construction site for a nuclear plant being built by South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company, which has come un...

UMaine in business of certifying turbine blades

12/30/2014

ORONO, Maine (AP) — The University of Maine has tested its largest wind turbine blade to date. UMaine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center completed static strength testing this month of a 184-foot-long wind turbine...

Mergers, EPA carbon plan generated much attention during 2014

12/29/2014

Mergers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan, cheap natural gas and the polar vortex were among the most noteworthy generation stories of 2014.

Developer opens Ohio review for 800-MW, gas-fired project

12/29/2014

Clean Energy Future-Lordstown LLC plans an 800-MW, gas-fired power project, and on Dec. 24 applied with the Ohio Power Siting Board for certain routine waivers it needs before filing a full siting application for this proj...

New England utility exec named to Vermont PSB

12/29/2014

A woman who worked for Vermont's Department of Public Service for 17 years is going to become the next member of the utility-regulating Public Service Board. The appointment of Sarah Hofmann was announced Monday by Gov. Pe...

Brown picks aide to lead troubled California utility board

12/29/2014

Gov. Jerry Brown named a former adviser on Tuesday to be the next head of California's troubled utilities commission, replacing a regulatory chief accused of back-channel dealings with utilities. Michael Picker, a former a...

Washington state carbon emissions dropped in 2011

12/29/2014

Greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state dropped by about 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2011, led by reductions in emissions from the electricity sector, according to the latest figures released by the state. The latest...

Group wants state regulators recused from PNM case

12/29/2014

State regulators in less than two weeks are to begin deliberating a proposal that calls for shutting down part of an aging coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico that serves more than 2 million customers in the ...

Vermont Yankee plant prepares to shut down

12/29/2014

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is getting ready to shut down. Its owner, Entergy Corp., says it is closing the plant for economic reasons. The plant in Vernon is expected to disconnect from the regional power grid Monday.

PSEG Solar to acquire Maryland solar project from juwi

12/23/2014

PSEG Solar Source will acquire a 12.9-MW solar energy facility near Waldorf, Maryland from juwi solar (JSI). The PSEG Waldorf Solar Energy Center will increase the capacity of PSEG Solar Source's portfolio to 123-MW.

PG&E discloses more emails with state regulators

12/23/2014

California's largest power utility released a dozen more emails Monday that it said showed improper back-channel discussions between the utility and top state regulators.

Indianapolis airport solar farm expansion completed

12/23/2014

Contractors have finished bringing online dozens of acres of solar panels at Indianapolis International Airport, solidifying its status as the home of the nation's largest airport-based solar farm.

French power company to pay $772M in bribery case

12/23/2014

A French power and transportation company has agreed to pay $772 million to resolve allegations that it bribed high-ranking foreign government officials for lucrative projects, the Justice Department said Monday.

Nebraska nuclear plant back online after short outage

12/23/2014

The Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant is back online less than a week after its main generator unexpectedly shut down as a precaution.

Ameren Missouri plans $135M in energy efficiency

12/23/2014

Missouri's largest electric company said Monday that it plans to invest $135 million in energy efficiency programs for customers over a three-year period.

TEPCO completes nuclear fuel assemblies removal from Fukushima 4

12/22/2014

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said it has safely removed the fuel assemblies from the most damaged nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

B&W Vølund to build waste-to-energy power plant in Scotland

12/22/2014

In a consortium with Interserve, Babcock & Wilcox Co.’s (B&W, NYSE:BWC) subsidiary, Babcock & Wilcox Vølund A/S (B&W Vølund), will engineer, procure and construct (EPC) a waste-to-energy (WTE) power plant f...

SKorea holds N-plant drills against cyber threats

12/22/2014

South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company said it began drills Monday against possible cyberattacks after online threats of attack against its plants.

PSC approves solar power project

12/22/2014

The Public Service Commission has approved solar power project planned by Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric in Mercer County.

Did You Like this Article? Get All the Energy Industry News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to an email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now

Whitepapers

Maximizing Operational Excellence

In a recent survey conducted by PennEnergy Research, 70% of surveyed energy industry professional...

Leveraging the Power of Information in the Energy Industry

Information Governance is about more than compliance. It’s about using your information to drive ...

Reduce Engineering Project Complexity

Engineering document management presents unique and complex challenges. A solution based in Enter...

Revolutionizing Asset Management in the Electric Power Industry

With the arrival of the Industrial Internet of Things, data is growing and becoming more accessib...