January 25, 2019 13:14
South Chungcheong Province, which is home to around half of Korea's coal-fired power plants, is committed to phasing out the heavily polluting power source, even as the central government wants to hike coal power production to make up for its nuclear phaseout.
South Chungcheong Province Governor Yang Seung-jo, who is affiliated with the ruling Minjoo Party, told the Chosun Ilbo on Wednesday, "We need to halt steps to extend the lifespan of aging coal-fired plants" since that would worsen already alarming air pollution.
Boryeong, Dangjin, Seocheon and Taean in South Chungcheong Province are home to 30 out of Korea's 61 coal-fired power plants. Two plants in Boryeong are more than 30 years old and 10 others were built over two decades ago.
The governor believes the health of locals is at risk from the emission from these aging plants. "The amount of atmospheric pollution in the province is the highest in the country at 280,000 tons as of 2015," Yang said. Yang added that decades-old plants must be shut down and transformed into eco-friendly power plants.
According to Environment Ministry, South Chungcheong Province accounted for 24.1 percent of 361,459 tons of airborne pollutants emitted by 635 factories and power plants last year, the worst of any province. Thermal power plants in Boryeong, Dangjin and Taean emit 55,000 tons of airborne pollutants, accounting for more than 60 percent of total pollutant output in the province.
Environmental groups put together a feasibility study on extending the lifespan of four power plants in Dangjin and urged the government to stop the plans immediately.
The state-run Korea Development Institute claims refurbishing the plants could extend their lifespan by another 10 years to 2041. The cost of refurbishment is estimated at W1.51 trillion (US$1=W1,130).
An environmental activist said, "The study concluded that the plant is operable until 2040 at 80 percent operation rate, but the government only intends to set the rate at 40 to 60 percent, which makes it completely unviable."
Yang also said he does not trust the study.
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