By Jane Chung
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea plans to complete the dismantling its oldest nuclear reactor by 2032, including removing spent nuclear fuel and releasing the site for other uses, the energy ministry said on Monday.
The 587-megawatt Kori No.1, located near the city of Busan some 300 kms (186 miles) southeast of Seoul, halted operations at midnight on Sunday after reaching the end of its 40-year-lifespan. It is the first South Korean nuclear plant to be closed permanently.
Decommissioning of Kori No.1 will be carried out by South Korea companies using local technology and is expected to cost 644 billion won ($570 million) and take 15-and-a-half years, the energy ministry said in a statement.
South Korea's nuclear operator Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co (KHNP) will draft a plan for the project by the first half of 2019 and submit it to the country's Nuclear Safety and Security Commission following a public hearing.
The KHNP will also seek a review of its plans by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Once approved, plant decommissioning will start from mid-2022.
At the same time, spent nuclear fuel will be cooled for 6 to 7 years and then transferred by December 2025 to a yet-to-built dry storage facility able to store a total of 1,391 spent fuel bundles.
Complete dismantling of the plant and a decision on future uses of the site will be completed by December 2032.
South Korea last year unveiled a plan to pick a site for permanent storage of its high level radioactive waste by 2028. A permanent underground storage site for low-to-medium level radioactive waste opened in 2015.
(Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Richard Pullin)