South Korea started operating the country’s oldest nuclear reactor today as the nation issued a power shortage alert amid rising temperatures.
The Kori-1 reactor run by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. in Busan, southeast of Seoul, may be fully functional as early as Aug. 10, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e- mailed statement.
The plant was halted for inspections after Korea Hydro, a unit of Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEP:US), reported a power failure on March 12, a month after it occurred. The company delayed the restart to seek the support of local residents after the state- run Nuclear Safety and Security Commission found the reactor safe to operate, the ministry said July 4.
South Korea, which gets about a third of its electricity from nuclear generation, issued an alert to reflect a surge in power consumption caused by high temperatures, Knowledge Economy Minister Hong Suk Woo told reporters today. The country’s idle generation capacity has fallen to less than 3 million kilowatts, the first time since September, when power failures occurred in several areas in South Korea, Hong said.
The country has been experiencing heat waves in August, with temperatures rising to as much as 38 degrees Celsius (110.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and the state-run weather agency forecasting that the heat will continue.
Korea Hydro resumed operations yesterday at a 1,000- megawatt reactor at its Yonggwang power plant, which halted automatically after a malfunction on July 30, Yonhap News said yesterday on its website, citing the state-run company.
The 587-megawatt Kori-1 unit started commercial operations in 1978 and won a 10-year license extension starting in 2008.
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