Asan Plenum


On 11 March 2011 Japan suffered its worst recorded earthquake, known as the Tohuku event. Fukushima reactor Units 1, 2 and 3 were operating at power before the event and detection of the earthquake shutdown safely. About an hour after shutdown a massive tsunami from the earthquake swamped the site and took out the AC electrical power capability. This resulted in several disruptive explosions because overheated zirconium cladding reacted with water and steam generated hydrogen.

In Korea, we are operating a 24 hour KINS Radiation Emergency Response Team immediately after Japan NPP accident (March 11) conducting activities such as:
– Analysis of Japan NPP accident and information gathering and assessment
– Evaluation of radiation effect and inspection of radiation contamination in airports and harbors
– Providing information and reinforcement of public communication to resolve public anxiety
– Press briefing & answering inquiries from phone calls & internet bulletin board

President Lee Myung-bak on March 17 ordered an across-the-board safety check on South Korea’s nuclear reactors, as Japan’s nuclear crisis set the alarm bells ringing in the close neighboring country. Although nuclear facilities are safe, this should be an opportunity to review their safety to prevent a nuclear crisis in light of the Japanese-style nuclear troubles. Therefore, Intensive evaluation should be done on nine reactors that have been in operation for more than 20 years. We should communicate with stake-holders, including local governments, local residents, nongovernmental environmental supervisory organizations, and licenses. We anticipate that many of the lessons can be identified by the comprehensive safety check on nuclear reactors.

This leads us to conclude that:
First, our nuclear facilities are verified to be safe for expected maximum earthquake and coastal flooding based on investigation and research to date.
Second, we will expand to the environmental radiation monitoring station & promote a prevention plan such as securing additional radiation protection medicine and gas mask, and upgrades will be carried out on 50 safety features and facilities to make local reactors safe from the kind of damage that hit the Fukushima plant.
Third, we will contribute to uplift public credibility on safety of NPP and also serving as a domestic opportunity to strengthen safety against natural disaster.
Finally, we also will improve the international confidence on domestic NPP safety.

In addition, the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea pledged to increase their cooperation on nuclear safety and disaster preparedness and three countries will promote cooperation among nuclear safety experts.

Moreover, seeking to learn from events, new knowledge and experience, both nationally and internationally, must be a fundamental feature of the safety culture of the Korea nuclear industry.