S.Korea to restart second reactor late on Wednesday

SEOUL Wed Jan 2, 2013 2:57am EST

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SEOUL Jan 2 (Reuters) - South Korea will restart this week a second nuclear reactor which was shut for two months to replace parts found to have forged quality documents, but power supplies remain a concern as peak winter demand is expected to remain through February.

The state-run Nuclear Safety & Security Commission said in a statement on Wednesday that it had approved the restart of the second of two 1,000-MW reactors in Yeonggwang county that were shut down in November following the forged certificates scandal.

The reactor will resume operation late on Wednesday, and will take a day to operate at full capacity, said Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, the subsidiary of state-run Korea Electric Power Corp's which runs the nuclear industry.

The commission had approved on Monday the restart of the first reactor at Yeonggwang, 300 km (186 miles) southwest of the capital Seoul.

South Korea's nuclear sector has been involved in a series of minor incidents and the scandal over forged certificates for parts used in what the government insists are non-essential operations - events which led to the closure of the two reactors

Three other reactors with a combined electricity generating capacity of 2,680-megawatt (MW) also remain offline, which has raised concerns about power supply as winter bites.

South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy, depends heavily on oil and gas imports but its reactors supply a third of its power. Public support for nuclear power remains strong despite the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, and South Korea plans to add another 11 reactors by 2024.

The Korean government has been campaigning nationwide to save energy and avoid power blackouts in the colder than usual winter. (Additional reporting by Eunhye Shin; editing by Miral Fahmy)

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