The rot at our nuclear reactors

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The rot at our nuclear reactors

The prosecution set up an investigative team at its eastern Busan branch to embark on a probe into supplies of substandard components for nuclear reactors that led to the shutdown of four. The crackdown and clean-up of nuclear reactor control systems is a must for national power security.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office organized an investigative team of 12 members to inquire into fabricated test certificates of faulty components at two Sinrogi reactors and another two at Sinwolseong, and irregularities in supply contracts and appointments. The team raided offices of the parts suppliers and the institution that conducted the quality tests. The prosecution issued a statement saying it will investigate extensively for any criminal activities as long as the statute of limitations permits.

The nuclear reactor industry has been plagued with one scandal after another. The eastern branch of the Busan prosecution arrested 22 executives and employees of the Korea Hydro and Power Corporation last July on charges of receiving kickbacks in return for awarding supply contracts. Operations at two Yeonggwang reactors were halted last year upon discovering faulty fuse switches had been supplied with forged warranties in November. The substandard control cables found in the Gori and Wolseong compounds are key parts that send warning signals about accidents like radioactive leakage. If they go wrong, we could have had a disastrous catastrophe similar to the release of radioactive materials at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors in Japan. It is shocking that the staff at a nuclear facility tampered with key components in a way that could have jeopardized many lives.

People can live with a little inconvenience from a power shortage but not with the fear of nuclear disaster. Authorities must root out structural corruption in the nuclear reactor industry. The government and the Korea Hydro and Power Corporation promised reform several times in the past - so often that it began to sound like a broken record. But they failed to stop the corruption and the resulting scandals. If the corrupt networks and old boys club among the nuclear authority, manufacturers and testing institutions are not dissolved once and for all, there will be no end to safety concerns about our nuclear reactors. The prosecution must get to the bottom and punish once and for all those who put the public safety at enormous risk.
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