The Korea Herald


Lee orders check on nuclear facilities

By 김경호

Published : March 16, 2011 - 19:22

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From news reports
President Lee Myung-bak instructed his government Wednesday to painstakingly check the safety of local nuclear reactors, a move aimed at easing public anxiety here amid news of Japan’s nuclear crisis.
The president sent Lee Ju-ho, minister for education, science and technology, to a major nuclear power facility in the southeastern region of Gori for an on-site inspection, they added, officials said.
The minister was accompanied by a group of nuclear scientists.
Energy-ravenous South Korea has four nuclear power plants, located mostly in southern regions, but no major accidents involving them have been reported so far.
“Domestic nuclear reactors have placed focus on safety from their construction, and radioactive materials have not been detected at all in our nation since Japan’s nuclear accident,” said an official at the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae.
But the president ordered a general review of nuclear safety measures to dispel public worries, he added.
South Korea plans to check its nuclear power plants for vulnerability against tsunamis, which contributed to the nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan, a state nuclear safety agency said Wednesday.
The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety said that it will carry out a detailed safety review of all plants with exercises to be conducted to deal with nuclear disasters.
“The need to check for the impact of tsunamis has gained importance since towering waves flooded backup systems that played a role in the string of explosions at the Fukushima power plant,” the KINS said.
The loss of power made it impossible to properly cool at least three reactors and one spent fuel rod holding facility at the crippled Fukushima plant about 250 kilometers northeast of Tokyo.
These heated up and started to release hydrogen that ruptured outer containment structures, resulting in harmful levels of radiation being released into the environment.

The institute added that it plans to closely review emergency evacuation procedures in case of an emergency situation taking place in South Korea.