By Lee Kyung-mi
A recent earthquake in Gyeongju has prompted the South Korean government to move up planned stress tests for all nuclear power plants by one year and bolster their earthquake resistance. But no measures have yet been suggested for reducing or closing plants built in earthquake-vulnerable regions like Gyeongju.
The decision by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy to further bolster the “extreme natural disaster countermeasures” pursed in the wake of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant came at an earthquake follow-up measures review meeting presided over by the minister on Sept. 18 at the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) southern Seoul headquarters in Seoul’s Yeouido neighborhood. As a first step, stress testing of nuclear power generation facilities is to be completed by late 2018. The project had an original completion date planned for late 2019, but was moved up one year in response to growing concerns about power plant safety. First introduced in the European Union after the Fukushima disaster, stress testing involves assessing the soundness of nuclear power plants against natural disasters and other outside influences.