SEOUL, July 5 (Yonhap) -- A group of university professors and scholars demanded on Wednesday that President Moon Jae-in halt his push to scrap the building of new nuclear power plants and phase out those in operation.
"(The government) should immediately halt the push to extinguish the nuclear energy industry that provides cheap electricity to the general public," the group said in a press release.
During a ceremony in Busan last month to mark the permanent shutdown of the country's first nuclear reactor, the Kori-1, the chief executive who took office on May 10 said his government will scrap all existing plans for new nuclear power plants and won't extend operations of old reactors nearing the end of their initial life cycles.
Moon also hinted at halting the ongoing construction of two new nuclear reactors, saying the government will "secure public consensus" on their fate in the near future. He reiterated his earlier pledge to permanently shut down at least 10 aged, coal-fired power plants before his five-year term ends, a move aimed at reducing greenhouse gas and fine dust emissions.
"It is such a unilateral move to just scrap the nuclear policy based on the president's announcement," the professors said, demanding that the plan should be carried out after long, drawn-out and careful consideration by not only by the government officials but by experts in the field.
A total of 410 professors, including those from Seoul National University and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), have even argued that Moon's speech contained some problems.
They further urged the president to not only listen to his aides but other experts in the industry.
The president said nuclear reactors had long been considered safe and economical, but a series of incidents, including the 2011 nuclear accident in Japan's Fukushima, have proved such beliefs wrong. The president noted some 170,000 had to be evacuated from areas within a 30-kilometer radius from the ill-fated nuclear power plant that leaked radiation into the environment.
The scholars argued that South Korea's nuclear power plants are capable of withstanding any kind of earthquake that may hit the Korean Peninsula and there is very little chance of a Fukushima-like accident occurring here.
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