A South Korean government-organised committee is recommending Seoul resume the stalled construction of two new nuclear reactors after an opinion survey it set up found nearly 60 percent of respondents said they were in favour of the move. The two reactor projects were temporarily halted late in June after the government said it would let South Koreans decide and reflect their opinions in energy policy direction amid concerns over atomic safety. The suspension was one of the newly elected President Moon Jae-in’s key campaign pledges in efforts to allay public concerns over safety.
“Our final public opinion survey showed 59.5 percent of (responding) South Koreans chose to resume the construction,” Kim Ji-hyung, chairman of the committee, told a news conference on Friday. Stability of power supply was cited as a prime reason for the choice in survey responses, the committee said.
“Our recommendation to the government is restarting construction,” Kim said.
The committee conducted four rounds of surveys including phone interviews of 20,006 people, and public debates with some 470 citizens for the past three months. The results had a margin of error plus or minus of 3.6 percent. The two 1,400-megawatt (MW) reactors – Shin Kori No.5 and Shin No.6 – were originally scheduled to be built by March 2021 and March 2022 respectively in the southeastern city of Ulsan.
South Korea’s presidential office said on Friday it respected the results of a public opinion survey and would pursue future steps without delay.
Shares of state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) 5.6 percent following the announcement, while KEPCO Engineering & Construction and KEPCO Plant Service & Engineering surged as much as 20 percent and 10 percent respectively.