Expert Warns of Stronger Earthquakes in Korea

      March 24, 2011 13:09

      The Korean Peninsula is seismically more stable than Japan and China but nuclear power plants should be made more earthquake-resistant since tremors of a 6.5-7 magnitude cannot be ruled out, an expert said Wednesday.

      Chi Heon-cheol, a seismologist at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, told a seminar that quake-resistance standards for nuclear power plants here should be strengthened as quakes exceeding magnitude 6.5 may hit the peninsula given historic data and geological features. Currently, nuclear power stations are required to withstand quakes of a magnitude of up to 6.5.

      Records from the Koryo and Chosun dynasties say that buildings and structures in Gyeongju and Ulsan collapsed as the ground in the southeastern part of the country cracked. Geological surveys found traces of active faults, which could trigger massive quakes east of Gyeongju. "Analysis of past records reveals that there were earthquakes that may have had a magnitude between 6.5 and 7 by our standards," Chi added.

      The highest-risk areas are fault zones near Chugaryeong, Okcheon, and Yangsan areas, where huge chunks of ground joined to form the peninsula 240-190 million years ago.

      Meanwhile, the KEPCO has decided to raise the quake-resistance standard for new nuclear power stations from a magnitude of 6.5 to 7 in the wake of the massive earthquake in Japan. It plans to build seven such plants including new Gori Nos. 2-4 and new Wolseong Nos. 1 and 2 to be completed by 2014, and new Uljin Nos. 1-2 by 2017.

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