Nuke part woes may be setback for exports

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Nuke part woes may be setback for exports

The certificate fabrication scandal in the Korean nuclear power industry might affect the country’s reactor exports as the scope of the scandal expands amid a widening investigation into a corruption scheme involving parts suppliers.

It was found yesterday that Saehan Total Engineering Provider, the testing company that issued fake certificates for parts in two closed nuclear reactors - Singori 1 and 2 in Busan - was going to test a device for a nuclear power plant that will be exported to Jordan.

The part to be tested is a man-machine interface system, or MMIS, manufactured by PonuTech, a subsidiary of Posco.

PonuTech sent a letter to Saehan TEP, asking whether the company can proceed smoothly with the test.

“Since we are at the initial stage of the test, if there are problems we can cancel the contract and find another test agency,” said an executive at PonuTech.

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute in cooperation with a consortium led by Daewoo E&C is building a 5-megawatt nuclear power plant to be exported to Jordan University of Science and Technology for research. It won the order from the Jordan government in 2009 and was Korea’s first nuclear export contract.

Saehan is also known to have tested parts used in the four reactors of the Braka Nuclear Power Plant exported to the United Arab Emirates.

Industry insiders worry about the fabrication scandal’s effect on the country’s export of nuclear power plants.

The Lee Myung-bak administration promoted the Korea’s nuclear power plant technology, and the UAE contract was the country’s first commercial nuclear power plant export. Exporting a nuclear power plant is estimated to bring about $40 billion a year in profit for the duration of the contract, according to the industry.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy decided yesterday to sack the CEOs of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) and Kepco E&C, holding them accountable for the scandal.

Kim Kyun-seop became CEO of KHNP last June following a series of bribery and counterfeit part scandals involving the state-run nuclear plant operator and its suppliers with a mandate end corrupt practices.

Kepco E&C CEO An Seung-kyoo will also be dismissed for approving fake certificates for parts.


By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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