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Int'l inspection finds no major problems at S. Korean nuclear power plants

SEJONG, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- An international inspection of South Korea's nuclear power plants and its state-run operator has identified nearly 200 minor problems, though they do not warrant any immediate safety concerns, the country's nuclear commission said Wednesday.

According to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC), the special inspection by Germany's TUV SUD concluded that South Korea's nuclear power generation system is largely immune to any immediate threat, while identifying 35 findings, along with 145 recommendations and 18 general recommendations for the state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. and its nuclear power plants.

A finding refers to a deviation from codes or regulations that are obligatory to the operation of nuclear power plants here, according to the report submitted by the German inspection organization.

Recommendations deal with deviations from international codes, standards or good practices in operating nuclear power plants.

The report, released by the NSSC, did not include a complete list of findings or recommendations, but showed two findings and 36 recommendations that dealt with the reliability and/or integrity of major components used in nuclear power plants.

The special international inspection, sanctioned by the NSSC, followed what many consider to be the worst corruption scandal in history of the country's nuclear power plants, in which large amounts of substandard control cables had been supplied and used in nuclear reactors under fake quality certificates.

The report also showed 18 findings or deviations from obligatory codes, along with 50 recommendations, were related to the nuclear power plant operator's quality assurance program.

The other 15 findings and 59 recommendations had to do with the company's engineering and maintenance program.

The report, however, said such findings or recommendations reflected no immediate threat to the safety of South Korea's nuclear power plants.

"Despite the obviously large number of findings and recommendations, the in-depth assessment of these ascertainments did not point to direct relevance to nuclear safety of the inspected nuclear power plants," it said.

"Nevertheless they should be considered as necessary to improve the operational safety significantly according to the concerned standards or international best practices," it added.

The NSSC said it has instructed the nuclear power plant operator to come up with a complete list of ways to implement all the changes recommended by the special inspection within the next four weeks.

"And the government will continuously check to make sure such measures are implemented without failure," it said.

South Korea currently operates 23 nuclear reactors, supplying some 30 percent of its total electricity consumption.

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