|Hanbit Nuclear Power Plant (Yonhap News)|
The 1 million-kilowatt reactor 3 of the Hanbit (formally Yeonggwang) Nuclear Power Plant in South Jeolla Province was partially suspended on Monday due to problems in a power generator, officials said.
“The control tower of the unit stopped operation of the turbine generator for a close check-up, but the reactor itself is still running without a problem,’’ an official from Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power said.
The state-run operator of the nation’s 23 reactors added it will resume the full-fledged operations of the unit soon after completing the maintenance. ‘‘It is different from halting operations of a reactor in a severe situation, which would generally require a few months for resumption,” the official said.
Despite the KHNP’s explanations, public concerns over nuclear reactor safety and winter power shortages flared up again as problems occurred in the Hanbit nuclear reactor 3 only six months after operation resumption on June 10. The same reactor had been put offline after a fracture was discovered in its control rod guide tube in November last year.
With the partial suspension of the Hanbit nuclear reactor 3, seven out of 23 reactors nationwide are not generating power due to regular check-ups or inspections, according to KHNP data.
“Considering the fact that nuclear power generates about one-third of the nation’s total power, Korea could face a power crisis this winter again unless some of the halted reactors start resuming operations by the year end,’’ said an official from Korea Electric Power Corp. under the condition of anonymity.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, power demand will peak this winter as bitter cold spells are forecast.
KHNP expected three reactors, which had been shut down for inspection following a safety scandal, to apply for approval to the National Nuclear Safety and Security Commission by year-end to resume operations.
”The government is working on power supply and power demand management plans for this winter,’’ a ministry official said, adding it would announce the plan next week.
By Seo Jee-yeon