Faulty turbine stops nuclear reactor

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Faulty turbine stops nuclear reactor

A nuclear power reactor in Uljin County, North Gyeongsang stopped operating yesterday apparently due to defects in its gas turbine, accelerating already heightened concerns for this summer’s electricity shortages.

The Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power reported to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission that the water level of a steam generator went up as the turbine came to an abrupt stop, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The suspension came after the nuclear commission suspended two power plants and delayed resumption of the operation of two other reactors at the end of May after being tipped off that substandard parts had been used in the reactors.

The nuclear security commission gave a green light to the resumption of the two reactors on June 15 after conducting safety tests, checking off 93 items. Yesterday’s stopped reactor is one of the two.

The halt of the reactor at Hanwool Nuclear Power Plant further undermines public confidence about Korea’s nuclear power industry as the authority said that the reactor fulfilled the safety standards only less than a month ago.

In addition to the tainted image of an industry already mired in scandal, yesterday’s suspension of the facility, with the capacity of 1 million kilowatts, posed a palpable threat to a general public already worried about power supply amid the government warning of the “worst-ever’’ energy pinch during the height of the summer.

A total of nine nuclear power facilities are offline for various reasons.

The Korea Power Exchange (KPE) has already issued a series of power shortage alerts of different levels including a two-consecutive-day preliminary warning in early June.

The KPE said yesterday that people would not face power shortages at least for this and next week as the rainy season has started.

But it remained cautious, saying that “If it goes on like this for a prolonged period, it could cause a serious power shortage.”

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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