1 March 2015

South Korea: Shin‑Wolsong‑2 Grid Connected / Wolsong‑1 Lifetime Extension

Shin-Wolsong-2 Grid Connected / Wolsong-1 Lifetime Extension

28 February 2015

The Shin-Wolsong reactor unit 2 was connected to the grid 26 February 2015 plant, owner Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced. The 1,050 MWe OPR-1000 reactor is located near Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang province, South Korea. Construction began on Shin-Wolsong-2 in 2008 and was completed in 2013, but was suspended following disclosure of falsified quality-control certificates.

In January 2013, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) announced that over the past 10 years, 13,794 units of 561 items with falsified quality certificates have been supplied to KHNP, and 6,949 units of 341 items were found installed in nuclear power plants. Almost all 5,258 safety-related items supplied with falsified documents were replaced under the witness of site investigators. A total of 20 suppliers and 215 cases of quality record falsification had been identified. In May 2013, the scandal widened into safety-class control-command cables. After an anonymous report had tipped off the NSSC, it was confirmed that test reports had been forged and that the test in fact failed under loss-off-coolant-accident conditions. The NSSC investigation found that safety-related control-command cabling with forged documentation had been installed at four of KHNP’s reactors: Shin-Kori units 1 and 2 and Shin-Wolsong units 1 and 2. In October 2013, the government confirmed that 100 people, including a top former state utility official, had been indicted on corruption charges in relation to the falsification scandal.

Meanwhile, after prolonged hearings, the NSCC voted on 27 February 2015 to approve a seven year life extension to the 32 year old Wolsong-1 Candu 6 pressurized heavy water reactor. The NSCC had convened three hearings on the future of the reactor, with two of the nine commissioners abstaining from voting. The Republic of Korea’s second oldest reactor unit was shut down in 2009 for major refurbishment including re-tubing, which involves removing and replacing feeders, fuel channels and calandria tubes. Operation resumed in mid 2011 before the reactor shut down again when its license expired at the end of 2012. Its future operation has been a major controversy over recent years, in particular following the Fukushima Daiichi accident in March 2011, with uncertainty as to whether it would have its license extended.
Over the 30 years since the reactor started operating in 1983, the nuclear plant was suspended 39 times due to malfunctions. The main political opposition party New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) stated the decision was unacceptable in terms of public safety, with recent polling in Gyeongju showing 60 percent of those polled wanted the reactor permanently closed.