KORAD Steps Up Parliamentary Approval of Special Act on Treatment of High-Level Radwaste
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KORAD Steps Up Parliamentary Approval of Special Act on Treatment of High-Level Radwaste
Three bills on the special act on the treatment of HLW, submitted by three representative lawmakers, is pending at parliament

29(Sat), Jul, 2023

Chairman Cho Sung-don of Korea Radioactive Waste Agency (KORAD) is chairing the “HLW Academy,” jointly organized by KORAD and Seoul National University Graduate School of Sustainable High-level Radioactive Waste. (Photo: KORAD)

Korea Radioactive Waste Agency (KORAD) is accelerating efforts to have a special act on the treatment of high-level radioactive waste (HLW) approved by the National Assembly this year. 

KORAD said the agency was holding “HLW Academy,” designed to legislate a special act on treatment of HLW and provide the exact information on HLW.

The academy is jointly organized by KORAD and Seoul National University Graduate School of Sustainable High-level Radioactive Waste.

The academy is taking place at SNU Hoam Professors’ Hall twice - on July 5 and July 19 - with about 60 major stakeholders, including official of basic and metropolitan local governments, city and county councils with nuclear power units in attendance. 

The academy is offering lectures on diverse themes on HLW technology, policy and communication and discussions to offer an objective understanding of HLW.

KORAD Chairman Cho Sung-don said, “The HLW Academy is expected to serve as a good opportunity to communicate with neighborhood residents so rational decisions can be made based on scientific facts.”

“It is the right thing in the interest of the safety of neighborhood residents of nuclear power units to designate a site for treating HLW and securing interim storage facilities,” Chairman Cho said. 

Besides, KORAD has recently reorganized and expanded the existing HLW team into an HLW business division. 

KORAD said the agency has overhauled and reorganized institutional systems to raise capabilities and competitiveness, so the government’s HLW management plan can be implemented timely. 

Under the umbrella of the HLW business division are the HLW planning office, the HLW technology research institute and the manpower research institute. 

If a special act on the treatment of HLW is enacted, the HLW business division will be responsible for securing an HLW treatment site, developing technologies and nurturing manpower.

KORAD’s attempt to have a special act on the treatment of HLW approved by June in consideration of political parties shifting to “general election mode” in the second half of this year had faltered, but the agency is still hoping on the passage of the act by the end of this year. 

New KORAD Chmn. Cho Promises to Focus on Progressing LILR Treatment Business 

KORAD held a ceremony to declare the first year of launching a process of selecting an HLW site at KORAD headquarters on May 25. 

The ceremony coincided with an inauguration ceremony in which Cho Sung-don, head of the External Cooperation Office at Korea Radioactive Waste Agency (KORAD), took office as the fifth chairman of KORAD. 

In his speech at the declaration ceremony, Chairman Cho said, “It is an undeniable fact that KORAD has been assigned as an institution responsible for treating high-level radwaste in accordance with the Act on Managing Radwaste, and an initial, top priority will be attached to building a foundation so the high-level radwaste treatment business can be implemented in a flawless fashion.” 

Chairman Cho said the radwaste treatment business is based on public trust, and communicating with outside stakeholders is KORAD staff’s most important role. 

Ji Sung-hoon, chief of the spent nuclear fuel underground disposal technology development department at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), said, “Research on the verification of the safety of an in-depth disposal of spent nuclear fuels using a research institute 500 meters below the surface will be ultimately a must.” 

Korea has wrapped up building a underground research laboratory (URL) 100 meters below the surface due to insufficient interest and budget, and the nation now will have to make preparations for creating an URL corresponding to international standards as a permanent disposal facility. 

The government has revoked the previous government’s policy of waning the nation off nuclear power, but this time, spent nuclear fuel has become the hottest topic. The reason is that interim facilities for storing waste nuclear rods from 25 nuclear power units in operation across the nation experiences saturation. 

KAERI President Ju Han-kyu said if a 5cm-thick copper container of spent nuclear fuels is inserted into a hole dug into the bedrock 500 meters underground and filled with bentonite, there will be no safety concern. 

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