Fukushima must be a lesson to Korea's nuclear industry – Greenpeace report

Press release - 2012-04-26
Busan, Korea, 26 April 2012 -- While Japan is still investigating the Fukushima accident and has halted all but one of its 54 nuclear reactors out of safety concerns, Korea is further extending its nuclear fleet, Greenpeace said today.

On the 26th Anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, Greenpeace today released its “Lessons from Fukushima” report (in Korean) at a press conference on the Esperanza in the port of Busan, close to the Kori Nuclear Power Plant that had an accident in February this year.

Greenpeace International’s Fukushima expert and nuclear campaigner Jan Vande Putte, led a radiation team to the scene in Japan not long after the Fukushima accident.  

"The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was not a natural disaster. Nuclear power is inherently dangerous. Japan was highly prepared for natural disasters – probably more than anywhere else in the world, but they could still not deal with Fukushima. This could happen anywhere in the world,” he said.

Greenpeace East Asia has updated the international organisation’s report with some lessons for Korea.  It has looked in detail at the Kori plant near Busan - to see what lessons might be learned, and found some serious failings.

Kori 1 plant suffered a blackout in February, causing the cooling systems in the reactor to fail and temperatures to rise to 58.3 degC in just 19 minutes of power failure. The event wasn’t reported to authorities until one month later and led to the recent resignation of KHNP (Korean Hydro & Nuclear Power) President and CEO Jon-shin Kim. 

Suh Hyung Lim, Climate and Energy Campaigner from Greenpeace East Asia’s Seoul office said:

"There are 4.01 million people living within 30km Kori Nuclear Power Plant - 20 times that of Fukushima. And 3.41 million live in the city of Busan. If an accident of a similar size occurred it would cause so much more damage in Korea."

"After Fukushima, the Japanese Government extended the emergency evacuation zone to 30km. But South Korea’s emergency planning zone remains at 8-10 km. We simply can never be ready for anything like this kind of accident,” said Lim.

“People in Busan would be trapped and exposed to very high levels of radiation, as the evacuation of millions of people would be practically impossible in a short time.”

“The Kori power plant, including the new site, Shin-Kori, is already bigger than Fukushima. Yet the Korean Government plans to keep on building reactors here. Ultimately, this massive plant would consist of 12 reactors: the biggest nuclear power plant in the world. All that massive amount of radiation near such a large population is extremely dangerous. The attitude of the Korean authorities is irresponsible,” added Jan Vande Putte.  

Greenpeace’s ship The Esperanza is in South Korea for its 20 day “Hope Energy tour.” Last week saw the release of Greenpeace's Energy [R] evolution report showing that the country could get out of nuclear energy by 2030 and be better off economically, and create more jobs.