SEOUL, Oct 18 (Reuters) - South Korea said on Friday it will delay completion of two new nuclear reactors by a year to replace control cables supplied with fake documents, leaving a gap that could bring power cuts in peak seasons.
Including these two plants under construction, a total of six reactors will have to replace cables after the discovery earlier this year they had fake certificates. That led to the shutdown of two reactors and extended maintenance for a third.
The energy ministry said a U.S. company was likely to produce replacement cables and it was planning to take legal action against South Korean firm JS Cable which had made and supplied the suspect cables.
Replacing the cables at the plants, Shin Kori No.3 and No.4, located at Ulsan, 330 km southeast of Seoul will take a year, the ministry added.
A ministry source who has direct knowledge of the matter said the new plants had been set to start commercial operation in August of next year and January of 2015 respectively after some delays due to testing cables.
South Korea has been expected to face possible power blackouts again this winter and next summer, as cable safety issues and protests that are holding up completion of an ultra-high-voltage power line threaten to keep more nuclear reactors offline.
“With emergency measures, power supply next summer will not cause major trouble,” the ministry statement said, adding it was considering various measures, such as extending life spans or completing early construction of some coal- and gas-fired power plants.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy generates a third of its electricity using nuclear power, in place primarily of oil and gas. South Korea imports almost all of its oil and gas.
South Korea has a total of 23 reactors and of those six are off line, including the three shut since May to replace suspect cables.
On Sunday a group composed of people from industry, academic institutions and civic bodies recommended Seoul should reduce its reliance on nuclear power in view of public discontent with corruption in the industry and Japan’s difficulty tackling the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.
The government will hold public hearings over the suggestion it should cut nuclear’s proportion of the country’s total power generating capacity to 22-29 percent by 2035 from the planned 41 percent by 2030. It will finalise an energy policy revision in December.
South Korea has indicted 100 people, including a top former state utility official, for corruption in a scandal over fake safety certifications for parts in its nuclear reactors, authorities said earlier this month.