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Committee restates anti-nuclear stance

Bishops of Justice and Peace body say risks to public, environment are too great

The view of Kori nuclear plant in Busan which was shut down, following an electrical problem (photo courtesy of the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power) The view of Kori nuclear plant in Busan which was shut down, following an electrical problem (photo courtesy of the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power)
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • May 3, 2011
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Bishops reaffirmed their opposition yesterday to increasing the number of nuclear power plants and voiced safety concerns over the country’s oldest reactor which was temporarily shut down recently due to technical problems.

The Korean bishops' conference said yesterday its Committee for Justice and Peace resolved to oppose the government’s nuclear expansion policy during a recent plenary meeting, because nuclear power can put people’s safety in serious jeopardy.

The committee said the fallout from nuclear accidents can be catastrophic on people and the environment, citing as examples the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the US; the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union; and the recent Fukushima leak in Japan.

It has also decided to back the local Committee for Justice and Peace in Pusan diocese which has called for the decommissioning of the No. 1 reactor at the Kori nuclear power plant in Busan.

The reactor, which was shut down on April 12 following an electrical problem, had been in operation since 1978 and was slated to be decommissioned four years ago, but the government decided in 2008 to keep it running until 2017.

Father Hugo Park Jung-woo, secretary of the bishops' committee said plans for further nuclear plants and reactors should be dropped, however he admitted it is practically difficult to cease operating existing reactors immediately.

As alternatives, the bishops' committee suggested establishing a sustainable eco-friendly energy system by developing renewable energy.

It says it will also conduct a campaign to reduce energy consumption among people.

Korea currently has 21 nuclear reactors at four nuclear power plants and is building or planning 11 more, according to Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power.

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