The Korea Herald

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소아쌤

Minister stresses need for nuclear safety

By 신용배

Published : April 25, 2011 - 18:48

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South Korea needs to strengthen its nuclear reactor safety protocol to ensure there are no problems with its atomic power production, the commerce minister said Monday.

The remarks come amid growing concern over the safety of atomic energy after the disastrous earthquake in Japan damaged reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, prompting radiation leaks.
Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Joong-kyung meets construction workers during his visit to Naju, South Jeolla Province, after touring the Yeonggwang nuclear power station Monday. (Yonhap News) Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Joong-kyung meets construction workers during his visit to Naju, South Jeolla Province, after touring the Yeonggwang nuclear power station Monday. (Yonhap News)

“There is a need to pay close attention to emergency training programs and make certain that backup safety systems are in place and can cope with unexpected developments,” Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Joong-kyung said during a visit to the Yeonggwang nuclear power station on the country’s west coast.

“As can be seen in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear station crisis, minor problems can lead to serious consequences,” he told officials from the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co.

The Fukushima plant was hit by a record magnitude 9.0 quake and massive tsunami that cut off power to its reactors causing them to overheat and explode. The explosions caused radioactive material to be released into the environment.

Seoul last week ordered a detailed examination of its oldest reactor after an electrical glitch caused the 587-megawatt unit to go offline on April 12.

Initially, the 33-year-old reactor located in the northeastern part of Busan, South Korea’s largest port, should have been turned back on in a few days, but policymakers decided to check all systems thoroughly to alleviate growing public concerns.

Choi, meanwhile, said that South Korea has made considerable strides in the nuclear sector in the past decades and has recently emerged as an exporter of nuclear power.

At present, the country operates 21 commercial reactors with electricity generating capacity of 18.720 megawatts or roughly 30 percent of the country’s electricity needs as of late March. 

(Yonhap News)