KHNP says reactor had low-level malfunction

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KHNP says reactor had low-level malfunction

The stoppage of the Shin Wolsong No.1 reactor on Sunday was due to a system malfunction related to the control of power output, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) said yesterday.

The nation’s nuclear operator conducted an investigation on the reactor after it automatically shut down at 10:53 a.m. after warning signals flared up on its protection system.

According to the results of the KHNP’s investigation, the reactor and its turbine generator stopped due to problems with the Silicon Controlled Rectifier (SCR), which converts alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC).

The KHNP also said that it was only a minor malfunction, and that a prompt inspection of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) will take place soon, considering the nation’s current electricity reserve and the risk of a supply shortage.

The stoppage of the reactor sparked fears of a possible power supply shortage this week, as the government continues to fret about the limits of its electricity reserve.

It expressed concern earlier that the nation’s power reserve could drop significantly between Aug. 13 and Aug. 24, when the peak vacation season ends.

When the reactor stopped operating on Sunday, the electric power supply plunged by just over one million kilowatts to 76.61 million kilowatts.

The electricity reserve was forecast to fall even more this week as industrial demand is set to surge when people return from their vacations, while the hot and humid weather also drives up usage.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy projected that the power reserve will drop to between one million and 1.5 million kilowatts this week unless measures are taken to better manage demand.

The KHNP said it will replace old electronic components with new ones and inspect other parts of the reactor, then reactivate the troubled reactor once the system that controls its power output has been deemed safe by the NSSC, it said. Operations could be resumed early this week.

“The NSSC will also see that the breakdown was of a very low level,” said an official from the KHNP.

It has taken nearly seven years for the one-gigawatt-capacity reactor to come on stream.

The KHNP commenced commercial operations on July 31, bringing the total number of reactors in the country to 23.

Nuclear plants now account for 25.4 percent of the country’s power-generating facilities.

By Kim Jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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