Reactor operator a disaster

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Reactor operator a disaster


Design blueprints of nuclear reactors and personal information of employees at the country’s two largest nuclear power complexes have been leaked and displayed widely on the Internet. State reactor operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corp. (KHNP) did nothing for three days, and it remains unknown how many facilities have been hacked and how much information leaked.

Last week, a blogger who goes by the name “Who am I” and claims to be the chief of the Korean branch of an anti-nuclear reactor group posted blueprints and details related to management of the Gori and Wolseong nuclear power complexes. The posts included thyroid cancer test results for residents living near the Gori reactor, as well as data on current and former employees at the state nuclear power operator. KHNP at first said there was no need to respond to an individual blog and later admitted it did not know such a website existed. The blogger released the identities of 10,799 former and current employees of KHNP and blueprint designs and manuals involving key programs and facilities. Only then did KHNP demand the page be taken down and request a prosecution probe. A company spokesman said the manual was handed out to employees as a part of training. The undaunted blogger vowed to release additional information at Christmas.

Nuclear reactors are top security facilities that if compromised could lead to a national catastrophe. If they are damaged, the entire power supply system of the country could be affected. They must be watched and managed most strictly. Yet the security system at our nuclear reactors has become an international mockery.

Lax surveillance at nuclear facilities has come to light on several occasions. An investigation by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy discovered that employees at Hanbit and Gori reactors shared ID and password codes with the staff of subcontractors. They gave them a free pass because they did not want to be bothered opening the door or files during the night shift. The outsiders also were free to download files onto flash drives. Of the CCTVs at the reactor sites, 77 percent did not function properly. Slack management and discipline was exposed by Internet media. The operator promised to bolster safety staffing and strictly control access to computer files. That was just a month ago. What the company needs is an entire makeover in security control systems and maintenance.

Nuclear reactor safety is associated with national viability. The prosecution must perform a thorough investigation, and officials of KHNP must answer for their negligence. The state entity has defamed its name with a series of corruption, collusion and security scandals. It needs thorough restructuring.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 20, Page 38


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