Discovery of more faulty parts sparks concern over nuclear safety: Seoul

Discovery of more faulty parts sparks concern over nuclear safety: Seoul

SOUTH KOREA - Fresh concerns have arisen over the safety of nuclear power and the likelihood of further power shortages after authorities found more faulty parts at two reactors under construction.

The Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation said Wednesday that disputed control cables at Ulsan's Shin-Kori reactors 3 and 4 failed a reevaluation.

The replacement of the 920-kilometer-long cables is to cause a delay in the completion of the reactors of at least six month to a year. The delay is likely to cause further power shortages next summer, observers say.

During a parliamentary audit of state agencies in charge of nuclear power management held Thursday, lawmakers from rival parties accused government officials of putting the nation at risk of nuclear hazards.

The government and state-run nuclear reactor operators should tighten discipline and sternly punish officials embroiled in scandals, they said.

"The failure of the control cables seems to be a man-made, foreseen disaster," said Rep. Lee Woo-hyun of the ruling Saenuri Party. "Even after the corruption scandal, KHNP only slapped (involved) officials on the wrist," he said.

A total of 118 corruption cases involving KHNP officials have been reported since 2008, Rep. Chang Byeong-hwan of the main opposition Democratic Party said at the audit session held by the Science, ICT, Future Planning, Broadcasting and Communications Committee.

So far, about 100 officials from the state-run nuclear power plant operator, parts suppliers and certifiers have also been indicted on charges of forgery and corruption. The nuke graft scandal was first reported in May shortly after atomic reactors were suddenly halted due to substandard parts and fraudulent quality certifications. The scandal involves officials from KHNP and Korea Electric Power Corp., as well as their suppliers and certifiers who were found to have colluded to falsify test certificates for parts and materials.

The newly discovered faulty parts in Ulsan's Shin-Kori Reactors 3 and 4 were manufactured by JS Cable and certified by Saehan TEP, both of which had been involved in the nuclear corruption scandal earlier in the year.

The construction delay of two major nuclear reactors due to faulty cables is expected to cause more than 3 trillion won (S$3 billion) in losses, according to the state-run nuclear power supplier.

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