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Seoul to develop technology, facility to store spent nuclear fuel rods
SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will work to develop indigenous technologies needed to store or process spent nuclear fuel rods, along with its first permanent facility to store spent fuel, the government said Tuesday.

   The move comes as the Korea Atomic Energy Promotion Council (KAEPC) recommended the government start looking for candidate sites for a spent fuel storage facility at least from 2016 for completion of construction in 2024.

   Currently, spent fuel rods are stored in temporary storage facilities at the country's nuclear power plants, but all such facilities are expected to be fully saturated in 2018 as the country's 21 nuclear reactors currently in operation produce an average of 17,000 spent fuel rods per year, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

   In its 14-point recommendations to the government, the KAEPC urged the government to complete constructing a permanent storage facility by 2024.

   To this end, the council noted the government needed to first begin public discussions on the need for such a facility.

   Such a recommendation comes as the government had been twice forced to postpone its plans to construct a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel rods due to strong public opposition.

   In addition to a storage facility, the government was advised to work for the development of the country's own technologies related to handling spent fuel rods, as well as disassembly of decommissioned reactors.

   South Korea has developed 17 such technologies, but still needs to develop an additional 21 technologies to come to par with the technological level of advanced countries, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said in a press release.

   The government will spend a total of 130 billion won (US$120 million) over the next 10 years, in addition to a 20-billion-won investment by the private sector, to develop such technologies, according to the science and technology ministry.

   "Successfully carrying out the planned development of related technologies is expected to help the country secure over 10 percent of the global market for dismantlement of nuclear reactors, which is expected to grow to 200 trillion won in 2050," it said in a press release.