Shinwolseong nuclear power plant in Gyeongju. (Yonhap News)
Distrust with the government is deepening following the shutdown of two nuclear reactors on Monday for using 230 substandard components.
Although the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said the move was a preventive measure to exchange all unsuitable parts by the end of this year, people who remember the nuclear disaster in neighboring Japan last year are concerned over their safety.
There is also anger stemming from the fact that the supply of substandard parts to Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., the state-run operator of the nation’s 23 nuclear reactors, was found to have gone on since 2003.
Others are calling on the government to launch an investigation into whether there is any link between a series of nuclear reactor breakdowns throughout the year and the parts.
Over the past 10 months, 14 breakdowns at nuclear plants nationwide were reported to the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, which runs a system to detect problems at nuclear power plants. The government on Monday claimed that there was no link between the cases.
As a follow-up measure, the government launched a task force to develop measures to minimize the impact of the shutdown of two nuclear reactors on power reserves for the upcoming winter season. This was an important step, given that the power generated by 23 nuclear reactors nationwide accounts for one-third of the nation’s annual energy consumption. However, it has to make a bigger effort to fix the problem to recover the trust of the people.
From the perspective of businesses, the government is run on the basis of its credibility. If the government loses the trust of the people, it will fail. Its failure does harm to the entire country.
The government needs to learn from the latest delay in launching the Naro space rocket. A defect in one ring-shaped component resulted in the postponement of the launch. The government has to ensure the replacement of faulty parts, while the police thoroughly investigate the case.
By Seo Jee-yeon (firstname.lastname@example.org)