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South Korea plans public blackout drill

The government will carry out the nation’s first civil training against potential nationwide blackouts on Thursday at 2 p.m. for 20 minutes, officials said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy and other related government offices asked citizens and businesses for their cooperation in a joint news conference.

Working under the possibility that the nation’s electricity reserves could fall below 2 million kilowatts, Thursday’s training will start with sirens and television and radio broadcasts at 2 p.m.

Citizens are required to follow guidelines, while some special facilities like elevators, subway trains and hospitals carry out a separate emergency response training.

After 10 minutes, another siren will sound to notify that electricity reserves are further dropping below 1 million kilowatts.

Power supply to 28 selected buildings in seven major cities will be cut to check their readiness for potential power blackouts.

In this case, individuals and businesses will be advised to switch off electric devices, air-conditioning systems and other production facilities.

Companies and industrial complexes are allowed to follow their own codes of conduct but electricity to public buildings and schools will cut off except for essential security equipment.

“Even though the public is expected to experience inconvenience, the emergency training is unavoidable at a time when the power supply situation is negative,” said Vice Knowledge Economy Minister Cho Suk.

The nation’s first-ever training comes amid growing concerns about power shortages that may cause nationwide blackouts over the summer.

The government issued an “Attention” warning on June 7 when the nation’s power reserves reached the lowest-ever level at 3.6 million kilowatts, or 4.9 percent of the total.

The ministry predicted that the current electricity crisis could be largely relieved when large power plants are completed by 2014.

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