Minister vows zero tolerance on accidents related to utilities

By Kim Bo-gyung
  • Published : Dec 12, 2018 - 16:20
  • Updated : Dec 12, 2018 - 16:22

Following a recent fire at an oil storage center and hot water pipeline ruptures that have caused casualties here, South Korea’s Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Sung Yun-mo on Wednesday reaffirmed the ministry’s principle of zero tolerance by calling an emergency meeting of agencies in the energy sector, underscoring the importance of safety management.

Yun summoned the leaders of 31 government agencies in the energy sector -- including Korea District Heating Corp., Korea Gas Corp., Korea National Oil Corp. and Korea Electric Power Corp., alongside Daehan Oil Pipeline Corporation, an affiliate of SK Group -- and shared updates on safety checkups and expected supply and demand for electricity this winter.

“Agencies must meticulously look through measures they have prepared to prevent recurrences of accidents and see whether they can eliminate the fundamental problems,” Sung said.

“Intensive checkups will be conducted at agencies, and those responsible for accidents will strictly be held responsible based on the principle of zero tolerance.”

Leaders of 31 government agencies and companies in the energy sector attend an urgent meeting after being summoned by the Energy Ministry on Wednesday, at Korea Trade Insurance Corp. in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

Safety management of energy facilities came into the spotlight after the burst of an underground pipeline on Dec. 4 near Baekseok Station in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, killing one 69-year-old man stuck in the rear seat of a van and injuring some 40 people.

Police raided the Goyang office of the Korea District Heating Corp. and two subcontractors in charge of repairing pipelines earlier this week to investigate the cause of the accident following reports the Board of Audit and Inspection had ordered Korea District Heating Corp. to upgrade its standards for hot water pipeline management three months ago.

“We plan to get down to how the pipelines were managed and checked through documents such as examination reports written by subcontractors. The Korea District Heating Corp.’s management supervision of subcontractors is also subject to inspection,” police said.

Police plan to arrest those responsible for the accident for criminal charges on professional negligence after a thorough inspection expected to take about two weeks.

About a week after the Goyang burst, another underground hot water pipeline ruptured in Mokdong, eastern Seoul, on Tuesday morning leaving some 1,800 households without access to hot water and heat for 17 hours.

Seoul Metropolitan Government said it believes corroded pipelines constructed in 1985 had caused the accident, and is looking into the exact cause.

Meanwhile, funds and tax cuts will be provided to investment in energy facilities, and agencies’ safety management efforts will be included in assessments to restore safety management capacity, the ministry said. 

By Kim Bo-gyung (