Nuclear safety issues mount in South Korea

Recent security concerns during inspections have heightened concerns about the safety of South Korea's nuclear reactors, particularly after a recent scandal that involved the use of unverified parts.


ISS SourceTiny cracks in tunnels at a nuclear plant in South Korea are hiking worries about nuclear safety in the country following a recent scandal involving the use of unverified parts.

The reactor where officials found the cracks will remain offline until regulators investigate the problem, putting extra strain on South Korea's already stretched power supply going into the winter months.

The utility Korean Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) said it detected microscopic cracks in six control rod tunnels at Unit 3 of its Yonggwang nuclear plant in the southwest of the country. Control rods regulate the speed of nuclear reactions taking place inside reactors.

“The cracks are not serious and there is no risk of radiation leakage,” said Jang Yong-jin, head of the mechanics department at KHNP.

Workers found the problem while the reactor was down for a regular 36-day maintenance period. But it will now stay out of service for a further 47 days as inspectors seek to determine the cause of the cracks, the South Korean Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said.

That deprives the national power grid of another source after operations stopped this month at two other reactors at the same complex to replace thousands of parts forged quality certificates.

Authorities said at the time halting those two reactors, Units 5 and 6, may result in “an unprecedented level” of strain on the nation’s power supply. They account for about 5% of South Korea’s total supply, according to the government.

“Winter here is brutal, and I am now very concerned that the unexpected shutdowns of three nuclear units will cause power shortages,” said Huh Kyun-young, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyung Hee University.

Experts have been warning about insufficient power supplies in South Korea for years, Huh said.

It remains unclear how the power supply will suffer by the extended shutdown of Unit 3, Jang said.

“Relevant departments are mapping contingency plans,” he said.

The cracks themselves are not a serious issue and have been found at reactors in such other countries as the United States and Japan, said Jae Moo-sung, a professor in the nuclear engineering department of Hanyang University.

But Jae warned the news could hurt South Korea’s efforts to export its nuclear power technology to other countries.

The problems at the South Korean reactors come amid increased scrutiny of nuclear power worldwide following the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan during the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in March 2011.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.