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KHNP says continued operation of Wolsong-1 would add deficit

All News 15:49 June 28, 2018

SEJONG, June 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's state-run nuclear operator said Thursday it decided to shut down Wolsong-1 earlier than the end of its operational life cycle to avoid worsening chronic operating deficit.

The Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) reaffirmed its earlier decision to close Wolsong-1 in Gyeongju, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, citing accumulated losses, in response to lingering controversy over the plant's economic efficiency.

The 30-year operational life cycle of Wolsong-1 ended in 2012 but was extended for another 10 years to 2022. It is now the nation's oldest reactor, following the permanent shutdown of Kori-1 in June 2017, and has remained idle for maintenance since May 2017. Its power generation accounts for a mere 0.6 percent of the national total, according to the company.

Wolsong-1 reactor, located in Gyeongju, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is shown in this photo provided by the state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., on June 15, 2018. (Yonhap)

Wolsong-1 reactor, located in Gyeongju, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is shown in this photo provided by the state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., on June 15, 2018. (Yonhap)

"Sales revenue of Wolsong-1 has never exceeded its production costs over the past 10 years. (The board of directors) decided on a shutdown, as its continued operation would add operating losses," Jun Hwee-soo, KHNP's chief operating officer, said in a meeting with reporters.

The production cost of Wolsong-1 was estimated at 123 won (US$0.11) for 1 kliowatt per hour, double the sales price as of 2017, according to the KHNP.

Despite the money-losing operation, Jun said the nuclear watchdog approved its extended operation in 2009, as nuclear power was considered more economical than other energy sources like coal and natural gas.

The state utility firm's decision was in line with the Moon Jae-in administration's nuclear phase-out policy to address growing safety concerns following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and a series of earthquakes stronger than magnitude 5 that hit the nation's southeastern region in 2016 and 2017.

The firm's labor union criticized the decision to close Wolsong-1 after a 592.5 billion-won investment to improve facilities and get approval for an additional 10-year operating license.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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