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‘Radioactive Waste Being Stored in Seoul, Daejeon’

Posted November. 04, 2008 09:27,   


The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute has kept low and intermediate levels of radioactive waste in Seoul and Daejeon, a report by the think tank said yesterday.

In the report submitted to ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Jung-hoon, the institute has stored 1,163 drums (a drum equals 200 liters) of the waste in a building of the Korea Electric Power Corp.’s central training complex in northern Seoul.

The waste was generated from 2001, when the institute dismantled its two nuclear facilities inside the training complex.

Also, a temporary building of the institute in Daejeon has kept 11,074 drums of radioactive waste since 1985.

Low and intermediate levels of radioactive wastes include nuclear garments, gloves and overshoes used by workers at nuclear power plants or reactors, and destroyed parts and filters used in nuclear facilities. Such waste contains a lower amount of radioactivity, but is still dangerous.

The government is building a disposal site for the waste cover more than two square kilometers in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, slated for completion in 2010.

To prevent contamination, six silos will be installed at a height of 50 meters and a diameter of 23.6 meters within artificial caves to be built 80 to 130 meters below ground.

In a stark contrast to general belief, the institute has kept radioactive waste in general or temporary buildings not designed to prevent radioactive contamination.

In the training complex, radioactive waste is preserved in containers and drums. Safety devices and equipment installed there include devices to check the amount of radioactive rays in the air, radioactive rays, agent movement and smoke, and fire extinguishers.

Similarly, radioactive waste in drums has been kept on the first floor of a temporary building in Daejeon.

An institute source said, “We have preserved radioactive waste in makeshift containers since we have no extra space to store it in nuclear power plants elsewhere. The waste will be moved to Gyeongju when the construction of the disposal site is completed.”

“We have inspected the contamination level every year. The level of radioactive rays is lower than 5-30uR, the level under ordinary conditions.

Lawmaker Kim said, “If storing radioactive waste in makeshift facilities is safe as the institute argues, the government doesn’t need to spend 1.8 trillion won (1.4 billion U.S. dollars) on the radioactive waste disposal site in Gyeongju. We should launch an immediate investigation and the waste should be moved to safer places.”