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Korea has 680 tons of Spent Fuel Rods Updated: 2011-04-04 12:00:00 KST

Korea has 680 tons of Spent Fuel Rods
There are a total of four nuclear power plants in Korea one in South Jeolla Province and three in Gyeongsang Province.
And according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, there are a total of 336-thousand spent fuel rods among these four plants as of September 2010.
Out of the four, Wolsong has the largest amount of used rods, followed by Kori, Youngkwang and Uljin.
Annually, 680 metric tons of spent fuel rods are produced in these reactors.
But by 2016, the containment facilities will be full and unable to hold any more used rods.
So, the government publicized its plans to build a nuclear waste depository and is supposed to start selecting the construction site next year.
Once through the nuclear fuel cycle, spent fuel rods are kept in a water tank to contain harmful nuclear radiation.
Korea doesn't allow reprocessing the rods nor does it have permanent containers for them, so they are left in the tanks, like Japan, for storage before they are recycled.
The spent fuel rods still retain 1 percent of the radiation compared to when in full use, and it takes seven years for the radioactive materials to diminish to a safe level.
What's more, the water used to store the rods also contains nuclear materials, so it needs to be properly disposed.
Each nuclear reactor currently holds around 18 million liters of this waste water.
Eventually they will be transported to a radioactive waste disposal facility in the southeastern city of Gyeongju, which is scheduled for completion in December 2012.
With the peak for nuclear waste storage quickly approaching, Korea needs to think about not only producing nuclear energy but safely disposing its waste as well.
Kim Han-ul, Arirang News.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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