Power Emergency Manual Ignores Vital Industries

      September 21, 2011 13:38

      A government manual on how to respond to a possible blackout makes no mention at all of the industrial facilities on which Korea's wealth depends. In a blackout, they would not even have a few hours' reserve power supply.

      According to the manual obtained by the Chosun Ilbo, KEPCO will be able to restore power supply two or three days after a total blackout. But the plan has nothing to say about manufacturing plants for key products like computer chips, steel and cars. Since more than half of the nation's electricity is consumed by industry, a blackout would deal a huge blow to the nation.

      The manual gives the highest priority in restoring power supply to government agencies, the military, the press and infrastructure. Next come "core clients," followed by high-rise apartments, commercial and business premises, and light industry complexes. The group with the lowest priory includes homes, low-rise buildings, the service industry, small businesses and more humble government offices.

      "If a plant is not connected to a power source by a high-priority supply line, it is excluded from the list of facilities to which power will be supplied first, regardless of its size," said Dr. Oh Tae-kyu of the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute.

      A Samsung Electronics executive pointed out that the firm generates W37.6 trillion (US$1=W1,148) in annual sales a year from its semiconductor plants alone. Given their contribution to the economy, "it's anachronistic that the government took no consideration of large manufacturing facilities in drawing up the plan to resume power supply," he added.

      When or by whom the manual was created is also a mystery. "I've never seen the manual for blackouts," a KEPCO staffer said. "It seems to have been around for a long time, but nobody knows when it was written."

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