Sunday, July 2, 2017

Nuclear Power Plants In Korea

With a new government in Korea, we have the shutting down temporally of two nuclear power stations. This is good news for the anti-nuclear movement but opposed bitterly by some of the citizens and politicians. 

The two closed are earthquake proof and considered safe, an interviewer for the With Bible magazine begins. His questions to a priest who is the head of the environment committee of a diocese are preceded with the note that the two power plants have been good for the economic development of the area. Are the nuclear power plants safe? Do they make our lives more comfortable?
The priest mentions how the Catholic movement against nuclear power began. He visited Germany where they decided to stop all nuclear power facilities by 2022. His first visit was in 2011 and a second visit a few years later, he witnessed the green party and its efforts to gather the support of politicians, business, and citizens for the abolition of nuclear power plants. This gave him hope for the future anti-nuclear movement in Korea.

He was impressed with the ethical standards of the German people. Greenpeace Energy is a German electric utility which produces environmentally friendly energy. Even though the price of electricity is higher many of the Germans are willing to accept this for a cleaner environment.

Korea at present has 25 nuclear power plants and 11 are being built or are planned. The density is the highest in the world and the writer surmises that if we had an accident it would be worse than the Russian Chernobyl and Japan's Fukushima.

Abandoning the nuclear power plants is not so simple because of the money that has been invested. Billions of dollars have been used and those who have benefited in different ways are many: a case where politics and economy are interrelated.

Many say it's safe and clean. Those who support the building of nuclear power plants say that even if a missile hit the site there would not be a problem. No one really knows, he responds. Besides the nuclear reactor, the subordinate facilities are easily destroyed with simple munitions. These are where the nuclear waste is stored and where even a small accident will release radiation.

We know little about the storage of nuclear waste but know the toxicity lasts for thousands of years. In Korea over 700 tons of plutonium are produced every year. How can we call this a safe energy source? This doesn't only threaten our own lives but those of future generations.

The Catholic Church with other groups is working to change the thinking of our citizens and politicians. A big obstacle in the eyes of many is the price and production of sufficient electricity for the nation. He says if the production of all our nuclear power plants stopped we still would have no problem with our electricity needs. The government lowered the price of electricity last year which means that we have a sufficiency. The supply is bigger than the demand.

The interviewer concludes with the priest asking the readers to sanctify the world. We try to sanctify all of  creation. These nuclear plants are harmful not only to us but to creation and will continue to threaten creation. He hopes the readers will join in working to have a nuclear-free Korea.

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