Just a quick note, even as the Japan situation continues to unfold, to recall that (1) the current ROK government wants to prioritize nuclear exports in the coming years; and that (2) the domestic industry provides a significant portion of the nation’s energy (28 plants either in operation or under construction).
At this point, it would be unfair to make any sweeping generalizations or loose analogies with the Fukushima site, but it is not unfair to recognize similar types of actors (General Electric) and contractors dating to the late 1970’s, in roughly the same part of the world, and to ask some hard questions about those plants and their lifespans.
More on this later, but I have been surprised (although I suppose I should not be) about the press coverage from Japan, much of which has focused on TEPCO, and very little of it looking at the reactor origins and hardware.
The provenance of the generators is indeed an important topic that should be discussed. However, while we have to wait and see whether design flaws with generators contributed to the current problems, it seems that the most immediate cause of the serious problems was the fact that no body in Japan predicted a major earthquake plus a tsunami.
From my reading of the press reports coming out, Japanese officials had put in safeguards for the plants to withstand a major earthquake, but never gave much thought to the idea that a major earthquake would cause a major tsunami that would flood and thereby knock out the all important diesel generators that pumps water to keep the rods cool.
They did anticipate a tsunami, just not one of this size.