SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea has idled two nuclear power plants after finding that test results for crucial control cables were falsified in a new blow to an industry mired in a graft scandal and safety lapses.
South Korea’s trade and energy ministry said Tuesday a company contracted to conduct tests fabricated the results for cables that failed to meet international standards for capacity to withstand changes in voltage and pressure. It warned that the plant shutdowns would result in summer power shortages.
The cables control valves that are responsible for cooling nuclear fuel or preventing the release of radioactive materials during an emergency. Another four nuclear reactors that were either shut down for scheduled maintenance or under construction were also using cables that had failed the tests.
“If these control cables do not operate well during an emergency, we viewed that it would not guarantee to cool nuclear fuels or to shut off radioactive materials,” South Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said in a statement.
It said the cables, which were in use since December 2011, failed nine of 12 tests pertinent to their operation in a “loss of coolant accident.”