Between Promotion and Safety: Legal and Policy Obstacles to Achieving Environmental Justice in Korea's Nuclear Energy Act System

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Jinyoung PARK, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea
The first nuclear power plant of Korea, Gori No. 1, has been permanently closed in 2016, but 24 nuclear power plants are running in six regions. After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the social debate has been arisen about nuclear safety. This study was aimed to analyze the legal and policy obstacles existed in Korea’s nuclear energy law system pursuing the environment justice. In order to vitalize the nuclear industry, the Nuclear Energy Act was enacted in 1958, which stipulated the principles of nuclear energy research and management. Two members of the National Assembly in 2009 proposed that this act should be amended to the Nuclear Energy Promotion Act, but it was failed. Then it was separated into two acts, the Nuclear Safety Act and the Nuclear Energy Promotion Act without any objection in 2011. The separate existence of laws to achieve promotion of nuclear energy and to pursue safety shows contradictory aspects- the unlevel playing field- of energy policy. In Korea, the "promotion" of the nuclear industry is still the policy priority, and "safety" is merely a means for controlling the nuclear industry. This system confines responsibility for nuclear risk only to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission and can cause problems in policy implementation due to organizational fragmentation. In fact, in 2016, the commission passed a construction permit for the Shingori 5 and 6 units. However as the new government has entered the post-nuclear policy, the debate over the role and status of the commission is still continuing. Therefore, in order to prevent legal and policy cracks and to pursue environmental justice, this study argues that the "Nuclear Regulation Act" should integrate both laws and create a single control tower. This will help lower the social cost of the nuclear industry and contribute to sustainable energy policy formation.