Gov’t vows reactor delay won’t cause shortagesThe energy minister guaranteed yesterday that delayed construction of two nuclear reactors won’t cause serious disruptions to next summer’s power supply, stressing that one will be completed by the end of next year.
Amidst growing worries about corruption in the nuclear industry and possible power shortages, the ruling Saenuri Party and the government held a meeting yesterday to discuss the electricity supply and demand situation. Attending the meeting were Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jick; Cho Seok, president of the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation; Representative Kim Ki-hyun, chief policy maker of the Saenuri Party; and other related officials.
At the meeting, Yoon said the Singori 3 nuclear reactor will be completed by the end of next year. The construction of the 1.4 million kilowatt reactor was already delayed twice after a probe found that test certificates for certain cables were faked and the cables themselves turned out to be faulty.
“We can replace the cables and complete the construction by the end of next year,” Yoon said.
He said the government has been searching for better cable suppliers at home and abroad since June. A U.S. manufacturer is currently at the final stage of the screening, and cables will be supplied at the end of this year if the company passes the relevant test. With the plan, the nuclear reactor can begin operating before the end of next year.
Yoon also said another reactor, Singori 4, will be completed by 2015 as scheduled.
Participants at the meeting, however, expressed concerns about power shortages this winter and next summer as construction on another nuclear reactor has been delayed. “Public patience is running out and we are still worried about the power supply,” said Representative Kim.
Yoon replied that the government plans to secure 1.4 million kilowatts of electricity by sourcing 1 million kilowatts from thermal plants, which were shut down since January, as backup power and also by speeding up some construction. “We won’t cause serious inconvenience to the people,” he said.
The ruling party and the government also vowed to punish JS Cable, which provided faulty cables to Sinwolseong 1 and 2 reactors and Singori 1 to 4 reactors from 2008 to 2011.
“The company didn’t even conduct tests and fabricated the [quality] certificates,” Yoon said. “It is a crime that can never be forgiven and we will hold them accountable.”
Kim also urged the government to replace all faulty components as soon as possible and encouraged the law enforcement authority to go after the suppliers for both criminal responsibility and civil liabilities.
The ruling party and the government dismissed arguments that plans to erect high-voltage transmission lines in the country’s south should be reconsidered since the Singori 3 reactor’s construction is delayed.
The controversy centers on a government project to erect 161 high voltage transmission towers along a 90-kilometer (56-mile) route from the Singori 3 nuclear reactor near Ulsan to an electric power substation in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang.
BY KIM KYUNG-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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