reactor safety-inspection

SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to verify the safety of its nuclear reactors in a special inspection by an international organization, the government said Tuesday.

The country will begin receiving bids on Wednesday from international organizations or consortia capable of carrying out a special safety inspection on the country's 23 nuclear reactors, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

A successful bidder will be announced May 3 for a 10-week inspection starting on May 8, it added.

The ministry did not specify how much the project is worth, but said it will check the safety of all 23 reactors currently in operation, and also evaluate the maintenance of eight sample reactors at four nuclear power plants.

The move comes amid growing public demand to improve the safety of the country's 23 reactors currently in operation. Some environmental groups are even calling for an immediate shutdown of the reactors.

Such public concerns initially erupted following the nuclear accident at Japan's Fukushima power plant in March 2011, but they intensified after the government revealed late last year that more than 13,000 substandard parts had been used in at least two nuclear reactors here over the past decade under fabricated quality warranties.

The two reactors have resumed operation after all the substandard parts were replaced.

"The special inspection will be a chance to verify not only the safety of the country's reactors themselves but also the quality of its maintenance and quality-control measures," the ministry said in a press release. "It will also be an important chance to further improve the safety of the country's reactors in the future."

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