The radioactive waste (RAW) management situation in Korea

Spent fuel (SF) generated from nuclear power plants has been stored in spent fuel storage pools at reactors or in on-site dry storage facilities. Dry storage is currently used only for PHWR (CANDU) spent fuel sufficiently decayed for about six years in storage pools. The low — and intermediate — level radioactive waste (LILW) generated from the NPPs has been stored in on-site radioactive waste storage facilities.

Radioactive waste materials are also generated from fuel fabrication processes and they are stored on-site. In addition, the use of radioactive materials in medicine, research work and industry has increased steadily. These facilities are located throughout the country and generate various types of RAW. Radioisotope (RI) contaminated waste from these facilities is stored at an RI waste management facility. There has been much turmoil concerning public acceptance issues associated with the LILW disposal facility site selection, with a number of unsuccessful attempts to select the site.

The Korean government has striven to secure a disposal site for the safe management of RAW since the early 1980s. After a number of failed attempts, the Korean government issued a Public Notice on the selection of a candidate site for the LILW disposal facility, and the city of Gyeongju was selected as the final candidate site in November 2005 following the procedures involving a site suitability assessment, local referenda, etc. as specified in the Public Notice. The Korea Radioactive Waste Management Corporation. (KRMC) was established in 2009 as a new Korean RAW management agency and is currently undertaking the construction of the LILW disposal facility in accordance with the permit issued.

Spent fuel generated from NPPs is stored in the spent fuel storage facility in each unit. The storage capacity for spent fuel has been expanded as a consequence of the delayed construction schedule of the away-from-reactor (AFR) interim storage.

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