But while the country has big plans for nuclear expansion, it’s also grappling with how to handle and store nuclear waste. According to government figures, South Korea has produced over 12 tonnes of nuclear waste as of mid-2012, accounting for 71% of reactor storage capacity.
The critical issue at hand is that sometime between 2016 and 2024, the storage capacity of nuclear power plant complexes will be at critical mass.
An independent consultative body has been put in place in the wake of parts suppliers to the nuclear industry using forged certificates. This discovery caused stoppages at two nuclear reactors just as the harsh Korean winter approaches.
This is not the first time there have been issues with the Korean nuclear program, and citizens have been especially critical of the government’s lack of transparency on safety issues. This is just the most recent among a host of other events.
By 2014, the consultative body’s goal is to determine temporary conditions under which to store nuclear waste fuel for up to 50 years.
One solution is to reprocess waste locally and transfer it to another country under a bilateral agreement expiring in 2014 – a solution that requires US approval. So far, South Korean government officials have been tight lipped about negotiations with the United States.