News

DATE=10/6/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SOUTH KOREA NUCLEAR NUMBER=2-254748 BYLINE=HYUN-SUNG KHANG DATELINE=SEOUL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: There have been angry demonstrations outside a nuclear power plant in South Korea, following a radiation leak which affected 22 workers. The demonstrators called for an independent inquiry into the accident and voiced concern over safety. As Hyun-Sung Khang reports from the South Korean capital, Seoul, government investigators have stepped up their probe into the causes of the accident. TEXT: Local residents picketed the nuclear power plant following news of the leak, which took place on Monday. The demonstrators rejected government assurances that the leak was only a minor one and they have demanded a thorough review of safety arrangements at the Wolsung Power Plant, in the South West of the country. At a rally, a local politician said the site should be shut down until the government implements safety measures in which residents could have faith. Similar protests were held in the capital, Seoul. A leading South Korean civic group said a joint independent investigation was needed to ease mounting public concern over nuclear safety. The Korean Federation for Environmental Movement cast doubt on the objectivity of the government's inquiry into the accident and said it would set up its own investigation team, involving civic group leaders, nuclear experts and lawyers. In the face of the public protests, the government has stepped up its own investigation. Two experts from the state-affiliated Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, traveled to the site, which is more than 240 kilometers from the capital. The Ministry of Science and Technology said that the government's investigation into the causes of the accident is expected to be completed by the end of this week. Officials had said after news of the incident emerged, that the leak of radioactive water appeared to have been caused by human error, while two workers carried out routine maintenance work. The 22 men who were exposed to radiation during the leak, were back at work Wednesday, although two were taken off duties involving radioactive material. Officials have said that the leak was a minor one, which emitted radiation equivalent to four or five x-rays. Last week's nuclear accident in Japan has raised sensitivities over nuclear safety here in South Korea, with calls for the government to suspend its ambitious plans to build more than 16 new nuclear plants by the year 2015. (signed) NEB/HSK/FC 07-Oct-1999 05:53 AM EDT (07-Oct-1999 0953 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .