* 950 MW Hanbit No.2 reactor shut; exact cause under probe
* Out of country’s 23 reactors, six now offline (Adds more details)
By Meeyoung Cho
SEOUL, Feb 28 (Reuters) - A South Korean nuclear reactor has been shut due to a technical glitch, taking the number of plants shut in the country to six out of 23, the state-run reactor operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd said on Friday.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy has been striving to avoid the risk of power blackouts during times of peak demand after a series of nuclear reactor closures linked to a safety scandal. Power shortage risks have waned as winter nears its end.
“To protect the reactor and maintain overall safety, it is usually automatically shut down if there are any signs of problems. It will take some time to verify the exact cause of the shutdown,” a KHNP spokesman said.
The closed 950-megawatt reactor is located in the county of Yeonggwang, over 250 km (155 miles) southwest of the capital Seoul.
South Korea has 23 nuclear reactors, which generate about a third of its electricity.
Nuclear reactor closures have become a sensitive issue in South Korea after a series of scandals over parts supplied using fake documents since late 2012, resulting in the closure of some reactors to replace the parts.
Seoul has also faced public pressure to curb its use of nuclear power after Japan’s Fukushima disaster, and plans to cut its reliance on nuclear power to 29 percent of total power supply by 2035, down from a planned 41 percent by 2030.
Alongside the latest closure, four reactors have been shut for extended scheduled maintenance after the country’s nuclear watchdog widened its probe of reactor parts manufactured or certified by foreign companies since 2008.
The fifth shut reactor is awaiting an extension of its licence after its 30-year lifespan expired in November 2012, said the spokesman at KHNP, which is owned by state-run Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO). (Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Ed Davies and Richard Pullin)