Korean Status and Prospects for Radioactive Waste Management

  • Song, M.J. (Korea Radioactive Waste Agency)
  • Received : 2013.07.31
  • Accepted : 2013.08.22
  • Published : 2013.10.30


The safe management of radioactive waste is a national task required for sustainable generation of nuclear power and for energy self-reliance in Korea. Since the initial introduction of nuclear power to Korea in 1978, rapid growth in nuclear power has been achieved. This large nuclear power generation program has produced a significant amount of radioactive waste, both low- and intermediate-level waste (LILW) and spent nuclear fuel (SNF); and the amount of waste is steadily growing. For the management of LILW, the Wolsong LILW Disposal Center, which has a final waste disposal capacity of 800,000 drums, is under construction, and is expected to be completed by June 2014. Korean policy about how to manage the SNF has not yet been decided. In 2004, the Atomic Energy Commission decided that a national policy for SNF management should be established considering both technological development and public consensus. Currently, SNF is being stored at reactor sites under the responsibility of plant operator. The at-reactor SNF storage capacity will run out starting in 2024. In this paper, the fundamental principles and steps for implementation of a Korean policy for national radioactive waste management are introduced. Korean practices and prospects regarding radioactive waste management are also summarized, with a focus on strategy for policy-making on SNF management.


  1. The National Assembly, The Radioactive Waste Management Act, in Korean (2008)
  2. The National Assembly, The Nuclear Safety Act, in Korean (2011)
  3. IAEA, Classification of Radioactive Waste, GSG-1 (2009)
  4. KORAD, Analysis for the Applicable Scheme of the IAEA's New Classification of Radioactive Waste, in Korean (2012)
  5. J.W. Park, D.S. Kim and D.E. Choi, A Study on Optimized Management Options for the Wolsong Low-and Intermediate-Level Waste Disposal Center in Korea, WM 2013 Conf., Paper No. 13479, Feb. 24-28, Phoenix, Arizona, USA(2013)

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