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Watchdog eyes finalizing audit into controversial reactor closure

The Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), the country's audit watchdog, on Friday plans to finalize an audit surrounding the controversial Wolsong-1 nuclear reactor closure.

BAI plans to convene a commissioners' committee meeting to review and finalize the agency's audit of the controversial early reactor closure, sources familiar with the issue said. The committee has held serial meetings since last Wednesday but has not yet managed to wrap up the report.

BAI chief Choe Jae-hyeong recently told lawmakers during a parliamentary audit of his agency at the National Assembly that the report will be reported to parliament no later than Tuesday.

The 2019 closure of Wolsong-1, South Korea's second-oldest nuclear reactor, has remained a hot-button topic in domestic politics since President Moon Jae-in decided in 2017 to decommission the reactor earlier than scheduled in line with his energy policy.

The 679-megawatt reactor in Gyeongju, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, was shut down earlier than scheduled last year by the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), citing the company's negative projection of the reactor's future economic viability.

For more than a year, BAI has been looking into whether the shutdown decision was based on independent research, as opposed to being predetermined or politically influenced by the administration.

The audit was commissioned by the National Assembly in September 2019 amid a heated public debate on the early closure. (Yonhap)