June 15, 2018 / 6:12 AM / 9 months ago

S.Korea nuclear operator to close 2nd-oldest nuclear plant early

SEOUL, June 15 (Reuters) - South Korea’s nuclear operator said on Friday that its board has approved the shutdown of the country’s second-oldest nuclear reactor earlier than planned, to keep on track with the government’s nuclear phase-out scheme.

The decision follows the South Korean government’s energy policy shift towards renewables and scale-back of the country’s heavy dependence on coal and nuclear power.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd said in a statement it has decided to close the Wolsong No.1 nuclear reactor earlier than scheduled due to the economics of operating the reactor at low rates and concerns over its safety.

“We will take follow-up measures to get an operating license change for permanent closure under the country’s nuclear safety law,” the nuclear operator said.

The Wolsong No.1 reactor has been offline since May 2017 for planned maintenance. In 2012, the reactor was suspended from operating after reaching its 30-year lifespan, but started back up after the country’s nuclear regulator Nuclear Safety and Security Commission extended its lifespan by 10 years to 2022.

The government said last year it would suspend operations of the 679-megawatt nuclear reactor earlier than planned.

Along with the early shutdown of Wolsong No.1, the government scrapped plans to build a further six reactors.

South Korea currently operates 24 nuclear reactors, which supply about a third of its power. The country’s oldest reactor, Kori No.1, was permanently closed in June 2017.

Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Tom Hogue

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