South Korea shuts down nuclear reactor over control rod problem

Spokespersons say it is not clear when the reactor will be restarted

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 June, 2014, 4:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 4:02pm

A South Korean nuclear reactor shut down because of a control rod problem, taking to five the number of reactors offline among the country’s total of 23, state-run nuclear operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) said on Monday.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy has wrestled with the pressure of power blackouts during peak demand seasons after a series of nuclear reactor closures in the wake of a safety scandal.

The shutdown of the 950-MW Hanul No.1 reactor comes ahead of peak summer power demand, but the nuclear operator said it would have little impact on supply at the moment.

“We are looking into the exact cause of the shutdown,” a KHNP spokesman said, adding that it was not clear when the reactor would be restarted.

Following Japan’s Fukushima disaster and the country’s nuclear power safety scandal over parts supplied with forged documents since late 2012, South Korea planned to reduce its reliance on nuclear power to 29 per cent of total supply by 2035, down from an original plan of 41 per cent by 2030.

South Korea’s nuclear watchdog has said it will expand its probe of reactor parts made or certified by foreign companies since 2008 to identify further cases of fake safety certificates.

About a third of the country’s electricity is usually contributed by its 23 reactors.

Three are shut for scheduled maintenance and one is awaiting a licence extension after its 30-year life expired in November 2012, according to the nuclear operator, which is owned by state-run Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO).