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Priests want nuclear plant plan scrapped

'No consultation' by council over scheme to build new reactors in diocese

Residents in Samcheok opposing building a nuclear power plant in the city (photo: Committee to Oppose Samcheok Nuclear Power Plant) Residents in Samcheok opposing building a nuclear power plant in the city (photo: Committee to Oppose Samcheok Nuclear Power Plant)
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • April 4, 2011
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Catholic priests in Wonju diocese in eastern Korea have urged the government to scrap a plan to build new nuclear power plants.

The Presbyterate in Samcheok in Wonju Diocese issued a statement on April 1 and asked the government to stop planning to build additional nuclear power plants on the east coast which is most vulnerable to earthquake and tsunami.

Korea is now operating 21 nuclear power plants commercially. But the government is building or planning 13 more, including four in Samcheok, 190 kilometers southwest of Seoul.

Father Paul Park Hong-pyo, representative of the priests, said the recent Fukushima disaster, following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, has warned that all nuclear power plants have the potential of causing a major disaster.

He said the government should abandon its plan to increase the number of nuclear power stations.

Citing the recent survey conducted by an online daily, he said 56.7 percent of Samcheok city's population oppose the plan.

He claimed the city council approved a plan last December and applied to the government to build a new nuclear plant without having a discussion with residents.

Father Park has been celebrating a Mass for a nuke-free world in the city's downtown every Wednesday.

In their statement, the priests also criticized the government for trying to extend the life of old nuclear power plants, saying South Korea has the latest model reactors while Japanese ones are old-fashioned.

Noting that a nuclear plant is designed to be operated for 30 years, they warned that the government's attempt to extend its life to 40 to 60 years would be only inviting a repeat of the Fukushima disaster.

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