NATIONAL

Prosecution raids offices of nuclear power operator

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jun 20, 2013 - 20:28
  • Updated : Jun 20, 2013 - 20:28

Prosecutors on Thursday raided nine key offices of the state-run nuclear power plant operator in Seoul, Busan and Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, in a widening probe into corruption involving the company, parts suppliers and certifiers.

The actions of officials in the nuclear industry put the nation at risk of nuclear hazards as they were found to have falsified test certificates for parts and materials used in reactors, according to authorities.

The prosecution confiscated computers and ledgers from the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corp. to see how much the operator paid for the sub par signal cables and how their safety was certified.

“(The raid) was to secure files (that may provide clues) to the forgery of test certificates for signal cables and how they were purchased,” an investigator said.

On the same day, the Busan Prosecutors’ Office requested an arrest warrant against two mid-level officials at the nuclear power operator for conspiracy and fraud.

The two, identified with by surnames Song and Hwang, are suspected of ordering technicians at KEPCO Engineering and Construction to approve signal cables even though they knew the certificates for the parts were problematic. Both KHNP and KEPCO E&C are subsidiaries of Korea Electric Power Corp., the state-run power provider.

The prosecution is widening its investigation to upper level officials, believing that the two mid-level officials were not in a position to make such decisions. Investigators are also looking into how the certification process for the signal cables took only two weeks, even though testing usually takes more than 50 days.

Later in the afternoon, the prosecution also raided the residences of former and incumbent officials who were involved in the purchase of signal cables manufactured by JS Cable. The signal cables were found to be faulty and caused the shutdown of two nuclear reactors last month.

JS Cable sold the cables worth 5.5 billion won to the state-run nuclear power operator in July 2004, right after the parts supplier failed to get safety approval twice.

The prosecution is looking into allegations that the parts supplier colluded with Saehan Total Engineering Provider Co., a certifier suspected of forging test certificates for parts used in reactors. Officials from KHNP and KEPCO E&C are allegedly deeply implicated in the case.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)