Rules on reactor parts tightened to quell fears

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Rules on reactor parts tightened to quell fears

The government pledged to overhaul the state-run nuclear plant operator yesterday in an attempt to win public trust and enhance the safety of nuclear power generation.

It will launch a procurement office at the headquarters of the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation and forbid regional offices at the nuclear plants from making purchases of reactor parts.

It will also designate which local institutes can be used to provide certification confirming the safety of parts manufactured for use at the nuclear reactors to make it convenient for parts suppliers to get their products approved for safety.

Such moves come after thousands of parts installed at nuclear power plants in the country were found to have fabricated safety certificates. This led to the temporary closure of a number of reactors late last year, spurring fears of energy shortages. Two were recently brought back on line.

Parts suppliers have to submit safety documents approved by international entities including the U.S.-based United Controls International, but many forged the documents to save time and money.

In a November poll, only 34.8 percent of respondents said they feel Korea’s nuclear power plants are operated safely, down from 71 percent in 2010, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

“The government feels responsible for losing the public’s trust,” said Lee Gwan-seob, managing director of the ministry’s energy resources division.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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