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Gori shut down for safety check

Regulator assures glitch is minor, no radiation dangers


The government will order a safety inspection of the Gori-1 reactor, which was temporarily shut down following a technical glitch last week, officials said Thursday.

“It is a welcome decision, risking financial loss,” said Kim Chang-kyung, second vice minister of education, science and technology, in a news conference on Thursday.

“The reactor will undergo a thorough inspection. But we plan to complete it as soon as possible,” he said.

The nation’s oldest nuclear reactor has been out of operation since April 12 when a problem with its power supply system led to the automatic cut-off of power to the Gori-3 and Gori-4 reactors.

Amid mounting concerns here in the wake of Japan’s ongoing nuclear crisis, the operator Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. requested the inspection from Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.

Kim, however, made it clear that the inspection did not indicate any possibility of radiation danger and was more aimed at relieving people’s concerns.

“According to related laws, the Gori-1 reactor has been safely operated through regular inspections, including the special one by IAEA in 2008,” Kim said.

The Korean nuclear regulator has inspected all of the nation’s 21 commercial nuclear reactors, including Gori-1, since an earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant in Japan on March 11.

“We have completed an inspection on their preparedness for a powerful disaster. Now we are analyzing the findings for the final report,” said KINS president Yun Choul-ho.

Yun also assured that the separate inspection on Gori-1 will be carried out due to the request from its operator, not because of any safety concerns.

“Considering people’s fears about atomic crisis, we will dispatch experienced senior researchers for a thorough inspection,” he said.

Even though environmentalists and civic groups have called for their participation in the inspection, the KINS chief assured that there is no such case internationally, adding that the final report will be shared for public discussion.

The Gori-1 began operation in 1978 at the Gori Nuclear Power Plant in Gijang County, northeastern Busan. After the completion of its 30-year life cycle in 2007, the government extended its life by 10 years.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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