Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. (KHNP) and Uljin County have signed a long-delayed agreement on the building of two more nuclear reactors at the East Coast county. The signing was made between KHNP President and CEO Cho Seok and Uljin County Mayor Im Kwang-won at the county office on November 21. Also on hand for the event were Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick, and Rep. Kang Seok-ho of the ruling Saenuri Party. He is from the Yeongyang, Yeongdeok, Bonghwa and Uljin (Gyeongsaengbuk-do) district.
The accord stipulates that the state-run KHNP will provide 280 billion won to the county where four nuclear reactors will be built probably by 2022. Two nuclear reactors are currently under construction at the county.
The agreement calls for Yeongdeok County to cooperate with KHNP in building four nuclear reactors in exchange for a compensation package totaling 280 billion won. Some 200 billion won will be used for improving infrastructure, while 80 billion won will be earmarked for building educational and medical facilities.
Six reactors are already in operation at the Hanul/Ulchin plant in Uljin County, having started up between 1988 and 2005. Two more units are under construction at the nearby Shin Hanul Plant and should both be in operation by April 2018.
With the signing of today's agreement, KHNP will prepare for construction of Shin Hanul units 3 and 4, two further APR1400s. Construction of these will start in 2017 at the earliest, with both expected to be operating by 2022, according to KHNP officials.
While two of the reactors are currently under construction, KHNP postponed detailed planning for the other two reactors mainly due to strong local opposition to the level of proposed compensation. Uljin County reportedly demanded 500 billion won in compensation while the state-run KHNP came up with 60 billion won. The money will help pay for eight community infrastructure projects, including a high school, a hospital and an extended water main.
The regional economy is expected to get a boost, as the KHNP will hire more than 190 builders and nuclear facility companies for the Shin Hanul complex. Hundreds of parts suppliers also are expected to benefit in the deal.
Prime Minister Chung expressed his appreciation to Uljin residents for the sitting of additional reactors after 15 years of negotiations. “Nuclear power is an unavoidable choice for Korea, considering the shortage of natural resources, its manufacturing-oriented economic structure and national carbon reduction obligations in relation to the global society,” said Chung. “Regions that volunteer to take a facility, which benefits the entire nation, deserve an appropriate amount of incentives from the central government,” he added.
The fact that Prime Minister Chung and Minister Yoon attended the signing ceremony demonstrates that significant incentives should be made available for local self-government entities which volunteer to host important state facilities such as nuclear reactors, said KHNP. “The move also indicates that the government will deliver on its promise and act to spur regional development,” the agency added.
“It is a win-win arrangement,” said a Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry official. “It is significant that Uljin residents went halfway with the central government,” he said. The official said that the agreement set a good precedent for the building of nuclear reactors. “The government will need to try hard to resolve complaints of residents while pushing ahead with socially important projects,” he emphasized.
After the agreement was signed, Prime Minister Chung visited Yeongdeok County, North Gyeongsang Province to persuade residents there to accept a nuclear power plant construction plan. Yeongdeok and Samcheok were jointly selected by the government as candidates for a new nuclear power complex. Chung reportedly suggested that KHNP could provide 1.5 trillion won in compensation to Yeongdeok County if residents accept the sitting of a new two-unit nuclear plant.
With regard to the projects which could be undertaken in exchange for construction of two more nuclear reactors in Yeongdeok, KHNP set up a regional forum with Gyeongbuk Techno Park in Yeongdeok-gun, North Gyeongsang Province. The forum, composed of 11 regional development experts, will list up possible projects by 2016. “It will focus on new types of projects that can raise the welfare and incomes of residents and modernize schools,” said KHNP. KHNP officials said that the expansion of Yeongdeok’s city gas supply pipelines could be completed ahead of schedule, along with the construction of a bridge, expansion of a local road and development of a new port.
Meanwhile, KHNP arranged for 610 residents of Yeongdeok-eup and Chuksan-myeon, Yeongdeok-gun, to undergo free medical checkups in October 2014, a move which drew a favorable response from them. KHNP was considering a plan to purchase some of new nuclear plant sites in the nearby city of Samcheok City.