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Friday, August 01, 2014  

Power utility chief quits as S. Korea extends probe into 23 N-reactors
SEOUL South Korea widened a probe into how thousands of parts for its nuclear reactors were supplied using forged safety documents, with regulators set to inspect all 23 of the country’s facilities - a move that could test public support for the industry and threaten billions of dollars worth of exports.  

Two reactors remained shut on Wednesday, and five others are closed for maintenance, or through other glitches, raising the prospect of winter power shortages. The nuclear industry supplies close to a third of South Korea’s electricity.   

The authorities have stressed that the parts - such as fuses, switches and heat sensors - are non-crucial, and there is no safety risk.   

Kim Joong-kyum, president and CEO of power utility Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco), which owns the operator of the nation’s nuclear plants, tendered his resignation for what Kepco officials said were “personal reasons”.

The presidential office would decide this weekend whether to accept Kim’s resignation, an economy ministry official said.  

A second nuclear official, appointed in June after a series of closures at other nuclear plants, also said he would resign once the investigations over the latest lapses were completed.  

“I am sorting out what happened in the past. I will resign at any time once this is settled,” Kim Kyun-seop, head of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, the Kepco subsidiary that runs the country’s nuclear industry and reviews equipment certification, told a parliamentary hearing.  

South Korea’s Nuclear Safety & Security Commission said it set up a team of 58 private and public investigators to inspect all the country’s reactors to see if they were supplied with parts with forged certificates.  

“The team will inspect all 23 reactors, which will take some time, as you can imagine,” a spokeswoman for the commission, which supervises nuclear safety, said. The commission said it plans measures to improve supply systems, quality controls and external auditing.  

Agencies
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