Probe on faulty nuclear parts targets KHNP

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Probe on faulty nuclear parts targets KHNP

BUSAN - Prosecutors investigating corruption and cheating in the supply of parts to Korea’s nuclear energy reactors have pinpointed the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation (KHNP) as a big part of the problem.

At the end of May, four nuclear reactors were found to be using faulty control cables with falsified test certificates.

Prosecutors now believe a scam was run by KHNP that also involved JS Cable, the supplier, Saehan Total Engineering Provider, the part performance evaluation agency, and Kepco Engineering and Construction, the certificate approval authority.

Yesterday the eastern branch office of the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office raided nine sites including the KHNP headquarters in Seoul and Gyeongju, the Gori Nuclear Power Division and the power plants Singori 1 and 2 in Busan as well as the Wolsong Nuclear Power Plant in Gyeongju.

They also raided the residences of former and incumbent officials of the KHNP who were in charge when the parts with forged test certificates were supplied in 2008.

The prosecution suspects KHNP officials systematically ran the scam.

According to the prosecution, several officials, including a 53-year-old manager surnamed Kim of Kepco Engineering and Construction who is currently detained, have testified that a meeting was held with officials from JS Cable and Saehan to forge the test results on Jan. 29 and 30, 2008, after receiving a direct order from a 48-year-old KHNP manager surnamed Song.

The Kepco manager allegedly produced e-mails he sent to Song. He said he intentionally exchanged e-mails with him to get evidence that Song was in charge of the scam in case there was ever a scandal.

The prosecution yesterday filed a warrant to arrest Song and another KHNP manager. The prosecution also believes that a higher-ranked official was involved.

The prosecution said JS Cable failed to pass performance evaluations in 2001 and 2004 in Canada, but was able to sign a contract for the same parts, worth 5.5 billion won ($4.8 million), with the KHNP in July 2004.

After the faulty cables and falsified test result were discovered last month at the Singori reactors 1 and 2 and Sinwolseong reactors 1 and 2, two reactors were shut down. The other two were already idle.

After the faulty cables and falsified test result were discovered last month at the Singori reactors 1 and 2 and Sinwolseong reactors 1 and 2, two reactors were shut down. The other two were already idle, one for maintenance and the other for an operational evaluation.


BY WE SUNG-WOOK [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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