Government audit holds testing facilities liable

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Government audit holds testing facilities liable

The government said it has begun cracking down on the parts and material suppliers of state-run power generators, as well as state-run testing facilities that permitted the approval and distribution of faulty parts. The move comes following a corruption scandal last year involving Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced at a briefing yesterday that it held a two-month surprise audit on six testing facilities: the Korea Testing and Research Institute; the Korea Testing Laboratory; Korea Testing Certification; Korea Conformity Laboratories; Korea Apparel Testing and Research Institute; and the Fabric Inspection Testing Institute.

The audit was conducted, in part, due to numerous complaints filed since the end of last year by suppliers regarding the fairness of testing results. The review found that four nuclear plant parts suppliers fabricated test scores, and that seven parts integral in nuclear power plant maintenance supplied to Kepco KPS, an affiliate of the Korea Electric Power Corporation, appeared to be inadequate.

However, the Industry Ministry noted that those parts did not present significant safety threats, and therefore it will allow the ministry to replace faulty parts without suspending operations of current power plants.

Last year, the ministry had to suspend three nuclear reactors due to faulty parts, including defective control cables.

About 20 other parts suppliers that submitted falsified test results will be held legally accountable for submitting about 4,000 documents with fabricated safety test results to apply for public procurement projects in areas such as thermal power and radioactive waste disposal worth about 26 billion won ($25.5 million). The ministry did not disclose those organizations.

Of the six testing facilities audited, three will be handed suspensions for up to three months. The others will have points deducted from their annual management assessment reports. The ministry did not specify which facilities would receive suspensions.

Punitive measures for the testing facilities will be finalized following tests by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards. Penalties for suppliers will be finalized at the regular session of the National Assembly Nuclear Safety and Security Commission on Friday.

BY KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]




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