Govt., opponents wage public relations battle on nuclear-free policy

By Catherine Chung
  • Published : Aug 10, 2017 - 10:11
  • Updated : Aug 10, 2017 - 10:11

The energy ministry has formed a task force to better inform the general public about the government's nuclear-free policy, officials said Thursday, as opponents of the policy escalate their media campaign.

The task force under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will be responsible for providing information, statistics and industry status of other countries for better public understanding of issues involved, officials said.

The Moon Jae-in administration declared in June it will phase out nuclear-based energy production going forward and replace it with renewable energy, suspending construction of two reactors and vowing to shut down those that reach their operational life cycle.

The policy is contested by proponents of nuclear power, who claim that scrapping the reactors will raise the cost of electricity across the board while putting the country at risk of running short of power supply. They also do not want South Korea to give up the technology and know-how to build commercial reactors, an area Moon's predecessors had promoted as promising exports.


Questions about power supply were raised when the government invoked the demand response market system twice in July, asking companies to cut down their energy use in return for financial compensation. The system was adopted in 2014 with companies voluntarily taking part. Opponents alleged that the government used it to artificially raise the power reserve rate to refute concerns over potential power shortage.

The energy ministry denied the allegations and has issued nine press releases in a period of three days from Monday.

The Korean Nuclear Society, a civilian academy on nuclear development, has been leading the campaign for the opponents of the government's drive, dismissing reports on the health risks of reactors and the cost of dismantling reactors and refuting other negative arguments. 

KNS said it will ask the government to allow a visit to reactor construction sites by civilian representatives to help them make their own judgment about the country's atomic power policies. (Yonhap)