SEOUL--Officials at the Kori Nuclear Power Plant, the oldest such facility in South Korea, systematically covered up a potentially very serious power failure in February, according to sources close to the case.
All power was lost for 12 minutes on Feb. 9 at the Kori-1 reactor, which, if prolonged, could have had disastrous consequences.
The plant straddles the southeastern cities of Busan and Ulsan.
Plant officials took more than a month to report the incident to the nation's nuclear safety watchdog.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said the cover-up was ordered by the-then plant chief, who was due to be transferred to the head office of the publicly owned Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co.
The company dismissed him for failing to report the accident promptly.
According to the commission's investigation, outside electricity sources failed and the emergency diesel generator didn’t kick in, causing the 12-minute power loss, while power-supply devices were being tested.
Under the law, plant officials were obliged to report the accident immediately and notify municipalities and local residents by issuing an emergency warning.
The commission is weighing legal action against the former plant chief and other officials.
A member of the commission on secondment to the plant had no knowledge of the event for more than one month.
The commission also disclosed that the accident came to light by chance. It emerged that a Busan assembly member initiated an inquiry only after learning of the mishap during a conversation at a local restaurant.
The watchdog was launched as an independent body last October to bolster nuclear safety following the nuclear disaster in Japan last year.
Its credibility is already under attack because it failed to uncover the incident at the Kori Nuclear Power Plant in a timely manner.
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