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South Korea widens nuclear investigation, risks power cuts via Chicago Tribune

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s main nuclear power supervisor extended an investigation into forged safety certificates for reactor components to three more facilities on Tuesday, a day after shutting down two reactors.

South Korea generates 30 percent of its electricity from 23 nuclear reactors at state-owned plants, and the government warned of the potential for unprecedented power shortages as the shutdowns eat into the country’s thin spare capacity.

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The three additional reactors under investigation are still running. The two reactors already shut down will remain closed until the parts are replaced.

With another five reactors already closed for regular maintenance and glitches, a total of 6,500 megawatts of power capacity has been removed from the grid, from a total capacity of 81,740 MW.

The two shut reactors, each able to supply 1,000 MW, were found to have components with certificates purportedly from U.S. and Canadian regulators that had been forged by the suppliers of the parts.

The latest incident comes after a series of problems in South Korea’s nuclear power sector this year. Several reactors have been shut down for varying periods for malfunctioning, and officials at state-owned Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) have been investigated for receiving bribes, according to local media.

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