Nuclear parts probe prompts shutdown of two power plants

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Nuclear parts probe prompts shutdown of two power plants

A large-scale investigation into the nuclear power industry began in May when it was revealed that substandard parts with forged testing certificates had been supplied to nuclear power reactors. That revelation led to the shutdown of two reactors supplied with the parts and the delay of operations at two others, bringing the nation close to power blackouts this summer. In order to avert an energy crisis, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy required public offices to cut their power usage by at least 15 percent compared with last year and keep air-conditioners set at above 28 degrees. City shops that left their doors open with the air-conditioners on faced fines of up to 3 million won ($2,830).

Prosecutors investigated 56 nuclear parts companies and declared 17 employees guilty of being involved in the providing of faulty parts. The court said the shutdown incurred over 9 trillion won in losses. The investigation later extended to involve higher-ups of the state-run nuclear power operator as more corruption allegations were uncovered. The case resulted in criminal charges against 97 high-ranking officials, including the former president of the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation and another senior official there, as well as the vice president of the Korea Electric Power Corporation. Kim Jong-shin, the former president of the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation, was indicted on charges of taking bribes of 130 million won for steering business to the company. Kim was the highest-ranking official that was charged.

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