South Korea and Japan are two of the countries with the most concentrated nuclear power plants. According to the document submitted by Nuclear power Safety Committee, South Korea placed the top and Japan placed the 4th in 1km 2 concentration unit. Even after the incident of Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, South Korea postponed the lifespan of nuclear power plants, and Japan is restarting the nuclear power plant.
Today, this has become a big social issue in Korea and raises two big questions.
The first question is whether a nuclear power disaster comparable to the one in Japan can happen in Korea. The answer, of course, is yes. Whether caused by an earthquake or some other events, nature is unpredictable and human beings are fallible. It could happen. Especially, the risk Korea currently faces come from the exhausted machines at Gori nuclear power plant in Gijang and from building of more nuclear power plants in such a concentrated land of Korea.
Then, does it make sense to follow through on plans to increase our reliance of nuclear power? This increases the risk of a terrible problem occurring in Korea, but is that a risk worth taking?
Truly, concern over global warming has heightened the appeal of nuclear power, which does not add too much greenhouse gases that are caused by burning fossil fuels. But there has been a persistent tendency to ignore the toughest questions posed by nuclear power: What should be done with the waste? What are the consequences of a tragic accident in a populated area? How safe are the plants, really?
A considerable part of the problem at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power station are the highly radioactive spent fuel rods kept in storage pools at the plant. What to do with such poisonous waste material is the question without an answer. Nuclear advocates and public officials don’t talk about it much. Denial is the default position when it comes to nuclear waste.
There are very few catastrophic accidents at a nuclear power plants. And there have not been many deaths associated with them. The rarity of such incidents provides comfort zone, but what if it happens tomorrow? If Gori Nuclear power station blew, how wide an area and how many people would be affected and what would the cleanup costs be? Rigorously answering such questions is the only way to determine whether the potential risk to life and property is worthwhile.
Additionally, the nuclear industry has long been notorious for sky-high construction costs, feverish cost-overruns and projects that eventually are abandoned. Nuclear power is hardly the pristine, economical answer to the nation’s energy needs and global warming concerns. It provides benefits and big-time shortcomings. In the end, the price may be much too high.