Korea Nuke Damage: Human Error

Friday, November 2, 2012 @ 01:11 PM gHale

The shutdown of the No. 1 nuclear reactor at Korea’s Wolseong power station Monday was the result of human error, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) officials said.

The plant operator made a mistake while manipulating a circuit breaker, causing a power shortage to some equipment which led to a malfunction in the cooling system, officials said.

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“An internal probe revealed that a senior employee handed over his responsibilities to a junior with only two years of experience, who misunderstood his orders and operated the wrong switch,” a KHNP staffer said.

This is similar to the mistake that caused a malfunction at reactor No. 1 at the Gori nuclear power station that led to a blackout in February. At that time, a subcontracted worker with little experience failed to follow procedure and pushed the circuit breaker, causing the entire nuclear plant to lose power for 12 minutes.

“Human error is a more serious problem than faulty components and is the result of a lack of safety awareness,” said Prof. Hwang Il-soon at Seoul National University.

The latest incident appears to spell the death warrant for the Wolseong No. 1 reactor, which reaches the end of its 30-year life cycle Nov. 20.

A KHNP official said an inspection revealed serious damage to the inside of the reactor and a detailed investigation will take place after they take apart the reactor. The inspection will take more than a month.

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