The 24 reactors, capable of generating 23,250 megawatts, are concentrated in four locations – 5 to 7 reactors per one location – with some 5 million people living within 30km of the plants, according to 2019 data compiled by opposition lawmaker Wi Seong-gon.
Nuclear experts say South Korea’s clustered reactors don’t pose safety concerns, but some residents are unconvinced.
“The cows are a bit bad. There have been miscarriages, who knows why,” said Kim Jin-sun, a 75-year-old livestock owner living near Wolsong.
“Even if I try to sell my house or rice field and go somewhere else, no one will buy.”
SCARCE NATURAL RESOURCES
While many South Koreans support expanding nuclear power, a significant minority are urging a reduction.
A Jun 28 to Jun 30 survey of 1,000 South Koreans by Gallup Korea showed 39 per cent supported expansion of nuclear energy, 30 per cent wanted current levels to be maintained, while 18 per cent called for scaling it back.
South Korea ranks fifth in the world for nuclear generation, according to the World Economic Forum data for 2020, behind the US, China, France and Russia.
Since it has scarce natural resources, experts say nuclear energy is crucial to keep the country’s lights on and power its global-leading manufacturing industry, which exports chips, cars, display panels and electric vehicle batteries.