Wolsong-1 reactor’s economic viability unreasonably undervalued: watchdog

SEOUL, The economic viability of South Korea’s second-oldest nuclear reactor was unreasonably undervalued in determining the facility’s early closure, state auditors said Tuesday.
In its audit report on the early closure of the Wolsong-1, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) concluded that a June 2018 projection report commissioned by the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) included sales figures that were deflated.
BAI concluded that KHNP employees were aware of this but allowed the assessment project to proceed as was. The government watchdog also said officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, which oversees KHNP, were involved in the decision process.
BAI, however, said it could not determine whether the reactor’s early closure was justifiably warranted or not, as its audit focused only on assessing the veracity of the economic viability report on the reactor.
“Besides the economic factor, other general aspects were considered, including safety and acceptance by the local community,” the BAI report said. “Safety and region-based elements were excluded from the scope of this audit.”
The closure of Wolsong-1 has remained a hot-button topic in domestic politics since President Moon Jae-in decided in 2017 to decommission the reactor earlier than scheduled in line with his energy policy.
For more than a year, BAI has been looking into whether the shutdown decision by the state-run power company was based on independent research, as opposed to being predetermined or politically influenced by the administration.
The audit was commissioned by the National Assembly in September 2019 amid heated public debate on the early closure.
The agency was required to submit a final report to parliament within a five-month period that ended on Feb. 29 but was eight months overdue from the mandated deadline.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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