‘Tough penalties over reactor scam’

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SEOUL: South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won vowed on Friday to mete out severe penalties to anyone involved in a forged documentation scandal that has shut down a host of nuclear reactors.

“It is a grave crime that angers both heaven and human beings,” Chung told officials at a government policy coordination meeting.

South Korea shut down two reactors on Tuesday and delayed the scheduled start of operations at two more, prompting government warnings of “unprecedented” power shortages.

The move, part of a widening investigation into a scandal involving parts provided with fake safety certificates, means 10 of the South’s 23 nuclear reactors are currently offline for various reasons.

“Those found to be involved in wrongdoing or corruption must be sternly punished by the law, regardless of their rank and status,” Chung said.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy was expected to announce a package of measures later Friday aimed at reducing energy consumption in the summer.

The ministry has warned that blackout alerts, triggered automatically when power reserves dip below a certain level, were highly likely and power shortages could be “very serious” in August.

At proper capacity, South Korea’s nuclear reactors supply more than 35 percent of national electricity needs.

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