The fate of Korea’s oldest nuclear reactor remains unclear after a nuclear policy setting commission failed to reach an agreement at a second round of talks on Thursday.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) had marathon talks with experts to decide whether to restart the 33-year-old Wolsong-1 reactor or tear it down.
The nine-member decision-making panel is comprised of two standing NSSC commissioners, three appointed by the government, two by the ruling party and two by the main opposition party.
The Wolsong-1 reactor, in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, is the country’s first commercial nuclear reactor. It began operating in November 1982 and was shut down in November 2012 at the expiration of its 30-year lifespan.
Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power has spent 560 billion won ($509 million) replacing old parts and upgrading the reactor’s operating system trying to win NSSC approval to restart the reactor.
Investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency inspected the reactor in 2012 and found no critical problems with safety.
The commission’s approval would make the facility available until 2022. Its rejection would see Wolsong-1 become Korea’s first nuclear reactor to be demolished.
Korea has 23 nuclear reactors and they supply nearly 35 percent of the country’s total electricity consumption.
Dozens of anti-nuclear activists and people living near the reactor protested at the NSSC in central Seoul on Thursday, chanting slogans in opposition to restarting the reactor.
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