UAE nuclear regulator eyes Korean inquiries

The UAE is keeping a close watch on a forgery probe involving Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) as the South Korean firm is responsible for building nuclear reactors for the Emirates.

The UAE is monitoring a probe into whether Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) forged papers for reactor parts, as the power company is the main contractor for four of the Emirate's nuclear reactors.

DUBAI // The UAE is closely monitoring an investigation by the South Korean government into the Korea Electric Power Corporation.

The company, also known as Kepco, is the main contractor for four reactors at the UAE's Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, which is expected to be completed by 2017.

The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, the country's main nuclear regulator, is investigating reports that eight companies supplying parts to Kepco had forged 60 certificates to cover 7,682 substandard reactor components since 2003.

The investigation led to the closure of two power plants in South Korea and an investigation into three others last week.

"The UAE is closely following these developments, [as would be] the case with any developments related to nuclear safety," Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said yesterday.

"Nuclear safety is of a primary concern to the UAE programme and will continue to be the guiding principle in all our work and dealings."

Mr Al Kaabi said the nuclear sector was unique in continuously improving safety measures and learning from any mistakes.

An inspection team from the UAE's nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), was in South Korea when news of the investigation broke and has since questioned Kepco on the issue.

"FANR has been following the developments in the Republic of Korea since the news broke out," said Fatema Al Ansari, the spokeswoman for the authority.

"FANR currently has an inspection team in the Republic of Korea that is conducting a planned quality inspection, and they have been able to question Kepco and gather preliminary information on the issues."

The regulatory body said it had also been receiving information through the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation about the investigation.

An initial assessment suggested the investigation will have minimal relevance to the Barakah plant, FANR said.

"FANR has also requested an update from its counterparts in the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety under a cooperative agreement for exchange of safety information.

The federal regulator said no major concerns had been identified in relation to Kepco's performance.

"The information available at this time indicates that the issues involve one of Kepco's suppliers located in the US," it said.