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South Korea has decided to suspend operations at two more nuclear reactors over the use of unauthorized parts.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission also delayed the start of operations at two other reactors, but said there was no public safety threat.
Two reactors were suspended in late 2012, amid a scandal over parts with fake safety certificates.
South Korea has 23 nuclear reactors which supply about a third of its electricity needs.
The suspension of two reactors raised questions about power supply over the summer, local media said.
The two reactors to be suspended pending replacement of the unauthorized parts are the Shin Kori Reactor 2 and Shin Wolsong Reactor 1, the commission said.
South Korea has suspended operations at two more nuclear reactors over the use of unauthorized parts
Shin Kori Reactor 1, which is currently undergoing maintenance, and Shin Wolsong Reactor 2, a new reactor, will also not operate until parts are replaced.
All components used in South Korean nuclear reactors require specific certification.
But last year a minister revealed that some parts used in two reactors at the Yeonggwang nuclear plant had not been properly vetted.
Knowledge Economy Minister Hong Suk-woo said these were “non-core” parts that included fuses, cooling fans and power switches – items which could be used in other industries but needed international certification for nuclear power plant usage.
Earlier this month, six nuclear power engineers and suppliers were jailed in connection with the supply of components with forged safety certificates mainly to the Yeonggwang complex.
At least 30 people have been killed and other 800 have been injured after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Bushehr province in south-west Iran, officials say.
Rescue teams have been sent to the affected area, but darkness is hampering rescue operations.
The quake struck 90 km (60 miles) south of Iran’s only nuclear power station in Bushehr, the US Geological Survey (USGS) says.
At least 30 people have been killed and other 800 have been injured after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Bushehr province in south-west Iran
However, the nuclear plant has not been affected and is working normally, officials have said.
The quake was felt across the Gulf in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.
Some 10,000 people are thought to live in the affected area in more than 50 villages, two of which have reportedly been completely leveled.
The governor’s office has sent generators to the area so rescue operation can continue overnight.
Seismologists said the quake struck at 16:22 local time at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles) near the town of Kaki, south of Bushehr – a Gulf port city that is home to Iran’s first and only nuclear power plant.
Iran’s seismological centre in Bushehr province, linked to Tehran University, registered the quake at a magnitude of 6.1.
Tens of aftershocks – the strongest measuring a magnitude of 5.4 – struck within an hour, sending many people into the streets for safety.
One resident in Bushehr told Reuters news agency that they could “clearly feel the earthquake” but there was no damage.
State media reported that phone lines had been brought down by the quake and its aftershocks.
The earthquake shook buildings across the Gulf.
The governor of Bushehr, Fereydoun Hassanvand, told Iranian state TV that the nuclear plant was not damaged.
An official with the Russian firm Atomstroyexport told Russian media that the quake “in no way affected the normal situation at the reactor”.
“Personnel continue to work in the normal regime and radiation levels are fully within the norm,” the official was quoted by Russian state news agency Ria as saying.
Iran’s nuclear programme has roused concern among major powers that Tehran wants to build nuclear weapons – a charge Iran strongly denies.
Iran straddles a major geological fault line, making it prone to seismic activity. In 2003, an earthquake in the city of Bam left more than 25,000 people dead.
Bulgaria is set to vote in a referendum on whether a new nuclear power plant should be built.
The opposition Socialist party called the vote because it wants the government to reverse its decision not to build a new plant at Belene.
The first referendum in Bulgaria’s post-Communist history has polarized opinion and is seen as a precursor of general elections later this year.
The referendum would only be valid if at least 60% of the electorate votes.
The government says it supports the provision of nuclear power from an existing plant at Kozloduy, but that it does not have the 10 billion euros it says would be needed to build a new plant.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov told local media that this would remain the case even if Bulgarians voted in favor of a new nuclear plant.
Bulgaria votes in Belene nuclear power plant referendum
Bulgaria had to close four of its old reactors at Kozloduy as a precondition for its 2007 EU membership.
The government froze plans to finish the plant at Belene last year, when work at the site on the southern bank of the River Danube was already well under way.
The Socialists are seen as closely linked to the Belene project, having granted a construction contract for the plant to Russian state company Atomstroyexport in 2008.
They say Belene would now cost 4-6 billion euros to complete, and would lower electricity costs for consumers.
Environmentalists had opposed the plant, which had first been proposed when Bulgaria was under communist rule.
South Korea has shut down two nuclear reactors after it was revealed that some parts used had not been properly vetted, an official says.
Knowledge Economy Minister Hong Suk-woo said these were “non-core” parts and were not a safety threat.
They included fuses, cooling fans and power switches that did not have the required nuclear industry certificates.
The shutdown means there could be “unprecedented” power shortages in the next few months, Hong Suk-woo said.
The more than 5,000 parts could be used in other industries but needed international certification for nuclear power plant usage, he said.
Almost all the parts were used at the Yeonggwang Nuclear Power Plant, in the south-west, where the two reactors were shut down.
“Comprehensive safety check-ups are necessary at these two reactors where the uncertified parts were used extensively,” the minister said.
“It’s inevitable that we will experience unprecedented power shortage during the coming winter with the two reactors shut.”
He said the parts, worth 820 million won ($750,000), had been sourced from eight suppliers since 2003.
South Korea’s 23 nuclear reactors, which supply 35% of the country’s electricity, have experienced a series of malfunctions over the past few months.
While none have posed a public risk, opposition to the government’s bid to vastly expand its nuclear industry has been growing.
Japan will investigate a report that workers at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were urged to disguise their exposure to radiation.
Build-Up, a subcontractor for plant operator Tepco, admitted one of its executives told workers to put lead shields on radiation detection devices.
Otherwise, they would have rapidly exceeded the legal limit for exposure.
The Fukishima plant was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Cooling systems to reactors were knocked out, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactivity.
Tens of thousands of residents were evacuated from an exclusion zone around the plant.
Build-Up, a subcontractor for plant operator Tepco, admitted one of its executives told workers to put lead shields on radiation detection devices
Between November and March this year, a group of Build-Up employees were working at Fukushima, trying to restore facilities.
In December, a Build-Up executive told them to cover their dosimeters with lead casings when working in areas with high radiation.
Otherwise, he warned, they would quickly reach the legal limit of 50 millisieverts’ exposure in a year, and they would have to stop working.
Build-Up president Takashi Wada told Japanese media nine of the workers complied.
Dosimeters – used to measure cumulative exposure – can be worn as badges or carried as devices about the size of a smartphone.
The workers had a recording of their meeting, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said.
“Unless we hide it with lead, exposure will max out and we cannot work,” the executive was heard saying in the recording, as quoted by the paper.
The executive apparently said he used one of the lead shields himself.
A Tepco spokesman told Reuters on Saturday the company was aware from a separate contractor that Build-Up made the lead shields, but that they were never used at the Fukushima plant.
Earlier this month, a Japanese parliamentary panel concluded the disaster at Fukushima was “profoundly manmade” and its effects could have been “mitigated by a more effective human response”.
All of Japan’s nuclear plants were shut down in the wake of the disaster but one, in the town of Ohi, has now partially restarted.
• Reactor cooling systems damaged after 11 March earthquake and tsunami
• Explosions occurred on 12-15 March at four reactors after gas build-up
• Tepco engineers injected seawater into reactors for cooling
• Contaminated waste-water leaked on several occasions
• Meltdowns later confirmed at three reactors
• Tepco declared ‘cold shutdown’ – meaning reactors were stable – in December 2011
A Japanese parliamentary panel has said in a report the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant was “a profoundly man-made disaster”.
The disaster “could and should have been foreseen and prevented” and its effects “mitigated by a more effective human response”, it said.
The report catalogued serious deficiencies in both the government and plant operator Tepco’s response.
It also blamed cultural conventions and a reluctance to question authority.
The six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was badly damaged after the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems to reactors, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactivity.
Tens of thousands of residents were evacuated from an exclusion zone around the plant as workers battled to bring reactors under control. Tepco declared the reactors stable in December 2011.
Members of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission were appointed to examine the handling of the crisis and make recommendations.
The investigation included 900 hours of hearings and interviews with more than 1,000 people.
A Japanese parliamentary panel has said in a report the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant was "a profoundly man-made disaster
In the panel’s final report, its chairman said a multitude of errors and willful negligence had left the plant unprepared for the earthquake and tsunami.
“Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster,” it said.
“It was a profoundly man-made disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”
After six months of investigation, the panel concluded that the disaster “was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco” founded in the failure of regulatory systems.
It said that the situation at the plant worsened in the aftermath of the earthquake because government agencies “did not function correctly”, with key roles left ambiguous.
It also highlighted communication failures between Tepco and the office of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, whose visit to the site in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake “diverted” staff.
The report said regulators should “go through an essential transformation process” to ensure nuclear safety in Japan.
“Japan’s regulators need to shed the insular attitude of ignoring international safety standards and transform themselves into a globally trusted entity,” it said.
The report made several recommendations including:
• Permanent parliamentary monitoring of the nuclear regulatory body
• Reforming the crisis management system, with more government responsibility for public welfare
• Reforming nuclear energy laws to meet global safety standards
• Monitoring nuclear operators and developing a system for independent investigative bodies
All of Japan’s nuclear plants were shut down in the wake of the disaster. But on Sunday the first reactor was restarted in the town of Ohi in Fukui prefecture.
The restart sparked large protests in Tokyo but Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda urged support for the move, saying a return to nuclear power was essential for the economy.
The government is continuing to assess whether other nuclear plants are safe to be restarted.