BUSINESS

Human error behind 20 percent of Korea’s nuke plant malfunctions

By Seo Jee-yeon
  • Published : Jun 4, 2013 - 20:53
  • Updated : Jun 4, 2013 - 20:53
Human error is one of the main causes of malfunctions at nuclear power plants in Korea, a survey showed on Tuesday.

According to the state-run Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, 672 breakdowns or accidents at nuclear plants were reported over the past 36 years between 1978 and April 2013, and 18.3 percent of them were caused by human error. The latest breakdowns of two nuclear reactors, caused by the use of substandard parts, were not reflected in the data.

“Twenty percent of breakdowns occurred as operators ignored guidelines for plant operations,” the state-run agency said.

Problems with measurements and controllers topped the survey with 29.8 percent, followed by flaws in machinery with 26.5 percent. Human error was the third-most common reason for the suspension of reactors in Korea.

The survey was disclosed as the government has ordered a thorough inspection of the repeated forgery of documentation and use of faulty parts which led to the shutdown of a host of nuclear reactors.

In response to the continued emergence of safety-related issues surrounding nuclear power plants, the government is also focusing on developing measures to recover the trust of the public.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said on Tuesday that it would introduce an ombudsman to keep the nation’s 23 nuclear power plants safe by teaming up with universities and private research and development centers.

Previously, only state-run organizations, including the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, could get involved in R&D activities for nuclear safety-related projects. The incestuous sed nature of the nuclear power industry in every area, from R&D activities to parts supply and operations, has been pointed to as a major cause for the recent scandals involving nuclear power plants.

By Seo Jee-yeon  (jyseo@heraldcorp.com)