Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Twelve Minutes in Bballi-Bballiland

Between 8:34 and 8:46 on February 9, 2012, the Gori-1 reactor of KEPCO's Kori Nuclear Plant lost power, a first for the national nuclear industry (operational since 1978). More embarrassing: it took 12 minutes to realize that the back-up system didn't work either, the kind of details that could lead to a meltdown. And the reactor was under a safety inspection, which theoretically means under close scrutiny...

Twelve minutes, that's about the time it took for South Korean guns to retaliate following the shelling of Yeonpyeong-do by North Korea, in late 2010, because they were pointing in the wrong direction during ROK navy drills*.

I've already mentioned the unpreparedness of South Korea regarding blitz attacks from the North**, but the Kori incident confirms serious risk management issues in strategic fields. In the land of 'bballi bballi', some long term vision might also help.

Kori, or Gori, or more accurately Go-ri, Jangan-eup, Gijang-gun, lies within Busan Gwangyeoksi limits, a.k.a. Busan Metropolitan City, 3 million souls. You lucky you, here's the map***:

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* see "We need to talk about KIM". Note that the Obama administration dissuaded SK from carrying a larger counter-attack. Considering the precision of the shots, that was probably a sound call.
** see "
Korean blitz : all bases loaded"
*** on the Eastern shores, as usual (see my post-fukushimesque "
Shaken and stirred")


  1. Last month I had an opportunity to talk a couple of hours with an interesting American nuclear physicist (PH.D) who used to work in the 3 companies of the French Areva, Westing House, the German Siemens for his lifetime.

    Accidentally I met him in the restaurant while we were waiting until a blocked US road due to an avalanche would be reopened. He knew the information very well related to the nuclear plant building and technology such as Korea-UAE contract, Russia-Vietnam contract, Korea-Turkey discussion and the like.

    So I asked him, "Honestly speaking, which country has the best nuclear technology?" Then he answered "In so far as the peaceful us of nuclear energy is concerned, the 3 states of France, Korea, Japan are the best in the world. Even in the French Areva, there are excellent Korean nuclear physicists."
    He reiterated "The Korean physicists in Areva are excellent."

  2. If Japan nuclear technology stands among the best in the World... But in a certain sense, the 'peaceful use of nuclear energy' does work: Fukushima surroundings are more peaceful than ever...
    Since you mention discussions in restaurants, we learned yesterday that the Gori (but mercifully not gory) story came out only because a local politician overheard a discussion between inspectors in a restaurant.


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