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S. Korea toughens seismic safety regulations for nuclear reactors

2017/11/07 11:00

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By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's state-run nuclear operator said Tuesday it will strengthen seismic design requirements for nuclear power plants under construction and adopt additional anti-quake measures for existing facilities to enhance their overall safety.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) announced a set of safety measures to address public concerns after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit the southeastern city of Gyeongju in September 2016.

Among 24 reactors in the nation, 18 are located along the southeastern coast, which is more exposed to tremors, as recent earthquakes in nearby Japan could have destabilized the fault line on the Korean Peninsula.

Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown, South Korea has been upgrading the nuclear reactors' seismic safety features to withstand a 7.0 magnitude quake.

For Shin Kori units 5 and 6 under construction in the southeastern city of Ulsan, the KHNP said they will be built to be safe against a magnitude 7.4 quake.

An aerial view taken on Nov. 1, 2017, shows the construction site of Shin Kori units 5 and 6 in Ulsan, 414 kilometers southeast of Seoul, which resumed construction following a three-month hiatus for public opinion gathering about its fate. (Yonhap) An aerial view taken on Nov. 1, 2017, shows the construction site of Shin Kori units 5 and 6 in Ulsan, 414 kilometers southeast of Seoul, which resumed construction following a three-month hiatus for public opinion gathering about its fate. (Yonhap)

The company said the strengthened regulation was to reflect a civilian panel's recommendation to improve the safety of the nuclear reactors to safely resume construction after a three-month break for a public opinion gathering process.

The energy firm also vowed to establish a nuclear information center to share important information and send text messages to local residents and those who apply for the service in case of any accidents.

The KHNP said it is negotiating with its contractors to compensate for their financial losses incurred from the three-month break to complete the process by the end of this month.

The company earlier expected a compensation cost of about 100 billion won (US$89.8 million), but it could rise as the amount demanded by its contractors was larger than it expected.

Shin Kori reactors were about 30 percent complete before the halt in July, with about 1.6 trillion won having already been spent on the project.

ejkim@yna.co.kr

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