South Korea

South Korea restarts nuclear-power reactor shut down for safety reasons

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2013, 6:15am


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South Korea has restarted one of three nuclear reactors shut down for safety reasons, easing fears of power shortages over the winter.

Half the reactors at one of the nation's largest nuclear-power complexes were shut down in November, two of them to replace "non-core" parts that had been provided with forged quality and safety warranties.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said operators restarted one reactor at Yeonggwang yesterday evening following approval by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

"Another reactor is expected to pass our safety checks soon for normal operations," commission spokeswoman Shim Eun-jung said. A third reactor was closed after minor cracks were found during maintenance work.

Although operators insisted there had never been any threat of a radiation leak, the incidents stoked safety concerns heightened by last year's nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan.

South Korea has 23 reactors that generate around 35 per cent of the country's electricity. Of the 23 reactors, four with a combined 3,680MW power supply capacity remain closed, according to industry data.

Public support for nuclear power remains strong in South Korea, and Seoul plans to have added another 11 reactors by 2024. The government has been campaigning nationwide to save energy and avoid power blackouts this winter, which has been colder than usual.

Additional reporting by Reuters