US Deems Suspension of Nuclear Power Plant Construction a Serious Offense that Harms Residents

Suspending the construction of Westinghouse’s nuclear power plant was inevitable. The South Carolina company was selected as a nuclear power plant operator in 2008 and began construction in 2013. However, after the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, the standards for nuclear power plants were raised, and construction costs increased significantly. In the end, the company filed for federal bankruptcy protection in March 2017 because it could not overcome declining performance. The power plant developer announced it would construction of the nuclear power plant four months later.

Despite these circumstances, the U.S. Justice Department conducted a four-year, high-intensity investigation into those responsible for the shutdown of the nuclear power plant. Whatever the reason, it was deemed a serious offense meant to harm low-income residents who benefit from the plan the most, biggest beneficiaries, and disrupt the energy supply due to the abrupt stoppage of nuclear power plant construction.

The Justice Department ordered construction companies to compensate the low income resident who suffered great damage due to the suspension of nuclear power plant construction.. According to the foreign media, federal prosecutors immediately launched an investigation into Westinghouse after it suspended construction of the South Carolina nuclear plant in 2017. An agreement was recently reached requiring Westinghouse to pay more than $20 million in compensation to residents and partners affected by the nuclear power plant construction failure. This incident has no small implications domestically. As intact nuclear power plants are being shut down early under the Moon Jae-in government’s nuclear-free policy, ongoing construction of nuclear power plants has been halted, and nuclear power plants that have been built cannot be operated.

If federal prosecution standards are applied to Korea, the current government’s policy of denuclearization will also be difficult to excuse. Wolseong Unit 1, which is currently being prosecuted for manipulation of economic evaluation, was repaired at a cost of about 700 billion won (approximately $589,732) so it could operate until November 2022, but it is suspected of being closed early at the president’s direction. Construction of Shinhanul Units 3 and 4, which were under construction, was suspended, and Shinhanul Unit 1 was not approved for operation for more than a year after its completion. The cost of this is snowballing. Experts predict that the combined costs resulting from the suspension and closure of nuclear power plant construction will reach trillions of won. Now, it is necessary to stop the abandonment of nuclear power plants, which is not constructive and will only increase the burden to the public.

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