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[Interview] Wolseong-1 vulnerable to Fukushima-style nuclear disaster via The Hankyoreh

“For the lifespan of Wolseong-1 to be extended, it needs to adhere to the latest technological specifications, but none of those were implemented. That leaves the reactor vulnerable to a serious disaster such as what happened at Fukushima,” said Ha Jeong-gu, 62, a former senior safety analyst for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) during an interview with the Hankyoreh on Feb. 8. Ha was a key technical witness in the ruling by the Seoul Administrative Court on Feb. 7 that South Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) must cancel the permit it granted for an operational extension that allowed Wolseong-1 to remain in operation.“It’s true that South Korea has achieved technological independence in the area of nuclear power and that it has gone to a great effort to develop it. But Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power didn’t abide by a number of regulations and arbitrarily used back-of-the-envelope calculations in its effort to extend the lifespan of Wolseong-1,” Ha said.

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Ha is especially concerned that there was no review or upgrade of the four special safety systems (the containment vessel, two safe shutdown systems and the emergency core cooling system). Even if the parts and machinery in other systems fail during an earthquake or other accident, these four special safety systems have to operate in order to reduce damage.“If these special safety systems don’t work, you have a serious accident. For example, you could have a disaster like in Fukushima,” he said. The regulatory standards for these four special safety systems are R-7, R-8, R-9 and R-10.“If these technologies were only partially applied and the regulatory standards were not fully satisfied, as at Wolseong-1, I’m completely certain that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission would not have granted an operating license,” Ha said.Ha was also baffled about why many sections of the documents submitted by KHNP, including its final safety analysis report (FSAR), had been redacted. KHNP refused to submit or disclose documents, claiming that they contained business secrets and information related to national security.“The final safety analysis reports for Wolseong-2, Wolseong-3 and Wolseong-4 were written under my watch, and they did not contain any important business secrets nor anything you could describe as a state secret. When I worked for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the reports for those three units were handed around very casually,” he said.

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