A ceremony was held on 28 August to mark the official opening of South Korea’s underground low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste (LLW/ILW) disposal facility at Gyeongju in North Gyeongsang province.
The ceremony was attended by South Korean prime minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, Gyeongsang governor Kim Kwna-yong and the mayor of Gyeongju, Choi Yang-sik, as well as 1000 local residents.
The site selection process for the 1.56 trillion won ($1.5 billion) facility began in 1986, eight years after South Korea’s first nuclear power reactor – Kori unit 1 – began operating. Construction of the repository started in early 2006 and was completed in June 2014. The first phase of the repository consists of six underground silos, each 40 metres high and with a diameter of some 24 metres. This first phase can hold up to 100,000 barrels of radioactive waste.
The building of a second phase of the repository, which will be near-surface, began in January 2012 and is expected to be completed by 2019. This will add capacity to store a further 125,000 drums of LLW/ILW. Ultimately, the facility will be used to dispose of a total of 800,000 barrels of waste.
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