Radioactive waste disposal

Since the creation of the legal grounds for the implementation of the project by the 1986 revision of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), the Korean government has actively implemented the selection of the sites for radioac­tive waste disposal facilities. There have been nine failed attempts to secure a disposal site from 1986 to 2004 due to: [35] local residents voluntarily petitioned to host the facilities in ten areas, but site selection ultimately halted due to the absence of preliminary applica­tions by local government leaders. In March 2005, MKE organized the Site Selection Committee (SSC) in order to guarantee the transparency and fairness of the site selection process. The SSC, consisting of 17 civilian experts from diverse fields, managed and supervised the entire site selection process. In addition, the ‘Special Act on Support for Areas Hosting Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities’ (MKE Notice No. 2005-146) was legislated and announced in March 2005 to stipu­late support for areas hosting LILW disposal facilities, including special financial support, entry fees, and relocation of the KHNP headquarters. The act also stipulated the following to enhance the democracy and transpar­ency of the selection process:

• the host area was to be selected through resident voting in accordance with the Referendum Act,

• the selection plan, site survey results, and selection process were to be implemented openly and transparently,

• open fora and discussions were to be held for local residents.

Accordingly, in June 2005, the MKE announced the candidate site selection method and procedures as well as the support to be provided to the host areas and initiated the process through an announcement regarding LILW disposal facility candidate site selection. Regarding candidate site selection procedures, as shown in Fig. 21.4, the local governors must apply to host the facilities with consent from local councils. Then, in accordance with the results of the site suitability assessment, the MKE requested local governors to conduct local referenda in appropriate regions as required by the Ref­erendum Act. Local governors proposed and held the referenda. Based on the results of local referenda, areas with the highest percentage of favorable responses were selected as the final candidate sites. Local governments that had appropriately applied to host the LILW disposal facility by August 31, 2005 were in the four areas of Gunsan, Gyeongju, Pohang, and Yeongdeok County, and these four local governments conducted referenda. In accord­ance with the results of local referenda (Table 21.2), the city of Gyeongju was selected as the final candidate site (MKE Notice No. 2005-133).

image237

21.4 Site selection procedures of the LILW disposal facility.

image238"The area of the disposal site accommodates a total of 800,000 drums of LILW, and, as the first stage of construction, a rock cavern type of repository for up to 100,000 drums was chosen. However, the disposal method for further expansion will be decided depending on the nature of the site condi­tion. The disposal facility to be constructed in Gyeongju was named ‘Wolsong Low — and Intermediate-level Radioactive Waste Disposal Center’ operated by KRMC under the jurisdiction of MKE which was established on January 1,2009 (Figs 21.5 and 21.6). As of June 2012, the disposal facility is almost 90% complete (Fig. 21.7) and the date for initial operation is mid — 2014, taking into account the construction period.

In the main review phase, after completion of three rounds of Q&A, a few key technical issues (KTIs) were brought out and profiled for further intense deliberation. The KTIs that needed to be taken into consideration throughout the later part of the main review phase can be summarized as follows:

Table 21.2 Results of referenda for site selection in 2005

Classification

Gyeongju

Gunsan

Yeongdeok

Pohang

No. of eligible voters

208,607

196,980

37,536

374,697

No. of voters

147,636

138,192

30,107

178,586

(absentees)

(70,521)

(65,336)

(9,523)

(63,851)

Voter turnout

70.8%

70.2%

80.2%

47.7%

Vote for

89.5%

84.4%

79.3%

67.5%

Source: Park et al, 2009.

1 SILO REPOSITORY

2 CONSTRUCTION TUNNEL © OPERATING TUNNEL

© PORTAL © ACCESS SHAFT (6 RADWASTE RECEIPT/ STORAGE BLDG © RADWASTE BLDG ® SERVICE BLDG.1 UNDERGROUND (9 SERVICE BLDG.2 ‘ DISPOSAL AREA 10 OFFICE

11 GARAGE

12 SUBSTATION BLDG

13 WASTE WATER TREATMENT © BLDG.

1 14 GUARD HOUSE

^ 15 SUPER COMPACTOR BLDG.

21.5 View of the Wolsong LILW disposal center.

21.6 Cross-section view of the underground facilities in the LILW repository.

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21.7 Construction of the LILW repository (87% complete, as of June 2012; KRMC, 2012).

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