Cascade of blackout damage claims

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Cascade of blackout damage claims

In North Chungcheong, a farmer says that 15,000 of his catfish were killed in the unprecedented blackouts last Thursday. In South Chungcheong, a factory owner says his machines stopped and products on the assembly line were damaged. Internet cafes around the country said the blackout forced them to refund payments to customers who couldn’t get online.

Since the government started accepting compensation claims Tuesday from people and businesses affected by Thursday’s rolling blackouts, caused by government agencies’ bungling of the power supply on an unseasonably hot day, hundreds of claims have been made, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy yesterday. It’s estimated that billions of won worth of claims will be filed. The Small and Medium Business Corp. said 4,500 small and midsize companies suffered damages worth 30 billion won ($26 million).

The government will be taking claims for two more weeks, until Oct. 4, at 294 places including the Korea Electric Power Corp.’s (Kepco’s)189 branch offices. The ministry said 167 claims had been made as of Tuesday night.

“We have been bombarded with calls from the early morning with inquiries about how to apply for compensation and prove damages,” said a Kepco employee. “Some 300 claims were registered online, but most of them did not have enough evidence so they were not counted. For those claims, we’ll try to verify them by making inquiries.”

In the case of disputes, a committee set up by the government is going to handle the claims and decide the amount of appropriate compensation.

A housewife who lives in Suwon, Gyeonggi, said she was trapped in an apartment elevator for 40 minutes and afterward experienced a panic disorder and difficulty breathing. She said she is going to the hospital for treatment.

An entrepreneur in Busan said he fell inside a sauna at the time of the blackout. He said he still feels pain.

A beauty salon owner said customers left without paying when the lights went out, and some restaurant owners said fish died in their fish tanks. At a chemical factory in Iksan, North Jeolla, the production line stopped due to the blackout and it claims it lost 11 million won as a result. According to Kim So-nam, a Grand National Party congresswoman, 2,905 people were trapped in elevators during the blackout. A total of 1,902 rescue requests were made. Many people complained that emergency lights in the elevator and alarms didn’t work.

Meanwhile, Yeom Myong-chun, chief executive of Korea Power Exchange (KPX), told lawmakers Monday there could have been times in the past when electricity reserves fell below 100 million kilowatts, far below the safe margin of 400 million kilowatts. This means the country could have suffered total blackouts. Yeom tendered his resignation Monday.

Allowing the reserves to fall so low would be a serious mismanagement of the electricity supply, and the KPX denied Yeom’s assertion the next day.

In another controversy, KPX reported that there were electricity reserves of 390 million kilowatts at 2:30 p.m. last Thursday, but it included over 200 million kilowatts of electricity that could not be supplied immediately. At 3 p.m., Kepco began shutting off electricity in different regions.

KPX said, however, when it estimates electricity reserves, it customarily includes the amount that can be supplied after two hours. KPX said the ministry knew that the calculation was made in that way.

However, the ministry said that is not the case. “When we talk of electricity reserves, we have always meant electricity that can be supplied within two hours,” said a ministry official.

The KPX has a manual on how to deal with a total blackout. When a total blackout occurs, it takes two to three days to partially or fully recover the electricity supply because it takes time to raise voltage to the proper level. For the two to three days, people would have to live not only without electricity but also water, gasoline, gas for heating and cooking, elevators and public transportation. Electricity supply would be restored to the government, military bases, telecommunication facilities, the media, subways and water facilities, in that order. Low-rise apartments, houses, stores and small government offices would be the last to get power back.

By Limb Jae-un []

한글 관련 기사 [머니투데이]

"메기 1.5만마리 폐사" 정전 피해보상 첫날 545건 접수

한국전력 지점 등 전국 294개 신고센터…10월4일까지 2주간 신청 받아

충남에 있는 A업체는 지난 15일 오후 4시쯤 갑작스러운 정전으로 공장 기계가 멈춰 생산 중이던 전선 제품에 불량품이 발생했다고 한국전력 충남 지사에 피해 신고를 했다. 같은 날 비슷한 시간에 충북 소재 메기 양식장에선 치어 1만5000마리가 떼죽음을 당하는 피해를 입어 역시 인근 한전 지사에 보상을 요청했다.

지식경제부가 20일 정전사태에 대한 보상 접수를 시작하면서 전국 한국전력 지점과 한국산업단지공단 등엔 이처럼 다양한 피해 사례들이 접수됐다.

지식경제부가 이날 집계한 정전사태 피해보상 신청 건수는 545건으로, 신고 된 피해금액은 60억 원 가량인 것으로 파악됐다.

피해 사례 중엔 양계장에 전력이 끊겨 닭이 폐사했다는 내용과, PC방에 전력이 끊겨 고객에게 환불해 준 요금을 보상해 달라는 내용도 있었다. 또 공장에 전력이 끊겨 납품에 차질이 생겼다는 사례, 컴퓨터 등 전자제품 고장으로 피해를 봤다는 신고도 들어온 것으로 알려졌다.

한국전력 관계자는 "인터넷을 통해 300여 건이 접수됐지만, 대부분 신청 요건을 갖추지 않아 오늘 집계에서는 제외했다"면서 "요건이 미비한 신청에 대해서는 전화 확인 작업을 통해 보상 대상 여부를 가릴 계획이다"고 말했다.

한편 지경부는 전국 294개 신고센터를 통해 오는 10월4일까지 피해 보상 신청을 접수한 뒤 개별피해 사실을 조사해 보상을 실시키로 했다. 보상 지침은 소비자단체, 중소기업중앙회, 회계사, 변호사, 기타 전문가, 한전, 전력거래소 관계자 등으로 구성된 피해보상위원회가 마련하게 된다.
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