Storm Salinity Shutdown Six Korean Nuclear Plants

Two separate typhoons within a four-day span caused the shutdown of six nuclear reactors in Korea, a Korean newspaper reported. The two typhoons hit Korea on September 3 and September 7. The first of these, Typhoon Maysak, caused the shutdown of Shin Kori 1 and 2, plus Kori 3 and 4. The next typhoon to rumble through South Korea, called Haishen, caused the shutdown of Wolsong-2 and Wolsong-3.

Typhoon HaishenKorean Hydro and Nuclear Power, the plants’ operator, said an excess of salinity carried in the wind during the typhoons led to the shutdowns. The newspaper Hankyoreh asserted that the shutdowns “should have been foreseen and forestalled at a costal nuclear plant.” The incidents “will likely raise concerns about the safety of nuclear power,” the article said.

“The powerful winds and waves whipped up by the typhoon caused a large amount of salinity to enter the power supply equipment at the power plant. That in turn caused breakdowns, triggering breakers that are in place to protect the generating equipment,” KHNP said, explaining the shutdowns.

KHNP also said: “The facility was designed with insulation because of its coastal location, but the wind was so strong that foam from the waves reached the hills on the other side of the reactor. The exposed equipment was vulnerable.”

“Equipment outside of nuclear reactors uses waterproof parts as a precaution against rainwater or saltwater. Even if salinity is the cause, as the KHNP claimed, the real problem might be poor-quality parts and slapdash construction,” said Han Byeong-seop, director of the Institute for Nuclear Safety.

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