Nuclear corruption is dangerousThere seems no bottom to the corruption in our local nuclear power industry. The cables used in the new Shin-Gori reactors 3 and 4, which are under construction, turned out to be defective. About 900 kilometers (559 miles) of cable will have to be replaced. Control cables are crucial parts of the operation of reactors. They are responsible for shutting off radioactive processes or cooling nuclear fuel during an emergency. If the cables do not function, even a small accident could trigger a catastrophic disaster like a meltdown or cause radiation leakage. Replacement of such key components will delay construction of the two reactors. They were scheduled to be activated from 2015, but they will be delayed for more than a year. The reactors are capable of generating 1.4 million kilowatts of electricity and the delay in their operation will muddle up supplies of electricity for the country, which is seriously short of power due to shutdowns in reactors because of malfunctions and repairs.
That also translates into more public inconvenience. Koreans may have to get used to weathering heat and cold like in the old days due to power shortages. People had to fan themselves in this summer’s unprecedented heat due to a conservation campaign amid the worry of blackouts in the peak season. The energy minister had to beg the public for support and cooperation, promising next year will be better. He may have confidently made the promise because of the completion of the two reactors. But now that’s delayed. What excuse can the minister come up with now? The government has once again been lax in oversight.
The faulty cables were supplied by JS Cable, the same manufacturer that fabricated quality certificates on supplies in May 2012, which led to the shutdown of Shin-Gori reactors 1 and 2. JS Cable is also accused of supplying unqualified control cables to Shin-Wolsong reactors 1 and 2. Industry experts predicted that the company’s products would likely fail quality tests that commenced in May. Yet the government idly sat around waiting for the test results. After they were disqualified, it now says it will purchase imported cables to replace the faulty ones. Corruption in the nuclear industry is costing the country a colossal amount of money. The suppliers and their shady collaborators in the industry must be strictly punished and fined for causing major damages to the country and its people. The government must answer for slack supervision and action. We only have to look across the sea to witness the price we could pay someday. Japan’s nuclear industry is also guilty of having overly cozy relations among all its participants. The result is a disaster known as Fukushima Daiichi. Korea could have its own such tragedy.