South Korea to establish presidential body for nuclear safety

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3 Nov 2010
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Seoul, April 20: The government and ruling Grand National Party (GNP) agreed to launch a presidential body to coordinate different nuclear agencies to prepare nuclear energy policies and handle emergency situations, officials said today (April 20).

A GNP task force team unveiled the plan in a policy meeting that discussed precautionary safety measures to handle growing concerns over radiation leaks as Japan is still grappling with an unfolding nuclear crisis from a crippled atomic plant.

The team, led by GNP lawmaker Shim Jae-chul, will submit a related bill to the parliament this month so as to launch the central nuclear body in July, officials said.

The control tower will be composed of five to seven nuclear experts to oversee related organizations, including the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety and the Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Control, the officials said.

The agencies are currently under the Ministry of Education and Science, which oversees state research agencies.

To better prepare for a contingency situation, the education ministry will increase the number of automated radiation testing centers from the current 71 to 120 and local testing centers from 12 to 16 across the nation, officials said.

The ministry has also stored anti-radiation medication in case of a public safety emergency related to radiation exposure.

The education ministry is testing the nation's nuclear power plants for whether they can withstand such natural disasters as earthquakes and tsunamis with their response systems operating in a timely and appropriate manner.

South Korea currently has 21 nuclear reactors in operation and is building several more. It gets about one-third of its electricity from atomic power generation.

PTI (Yonhap)
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