South Korea plans to set up an independent consultation body as it seeks new storage sites for excess spent nuclear fuel.

Reuters reports South Korea had produced 12,340 tonnes of nuclear waste as of June 2012, nearly 71% of its storage capacity at reactors, and it projects that four nuclear power plant complexes will become full between 2016 and 2021.

Seoul is barred from reprocessing spent fuel under an agreement with the US aimed at defusing nuclear tension with Pyongyang, while transferring nuclear waste to a third country requires an approval from Washington.

The Ministry of the Knowledge Economy and its officials said in a statement released Tuesday that the public consultation over storing waste fuel would be completed by the end of 2014. The ministry plans to temporarily store the nuclear waste for 50 years or so.

This comes amid South Korea’s worst nuclear crisis involving forged safety certificates procured by state-run Korea Electric Power Corp., forcing the shutdown of two reactors and a sweeping probe on all of the country’s nuclear reactors ahead of the harsh winter.

The government came under fire for its lack of transparency on the safety of its nuclear programme as it bids to expand its nuclear capability.