Fuel loading underway at new South Korean reactor

11 February 2019

A ceremony has been held to mark the loading of the first fuel into unit 4 at South Korea's Shin Kori nuclear power plant. The country's nuclear regulator gave Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) permission to start up the APR1400 unit on 1 February.

Workers in the control room of Shin Kori 4 celebrate the start of fuel loading (Image: KHNP)

The event, on 7 February, marked the loading of the first of 241 fuel assemblies into the core of Shin Kori 4. The ceremony was attended by Chung Jae-hoon, President and CEO of KHNP, and Kepco Engineering & Construction Company (Kepco E&C) CEO Lee Bae-Soo.

The loading of all the fuel assemblies is expected to be completed by the end of this month. Shin Kori 4 is scheduled to start commercial operation in September following seven months of commissioning tests.

Construction of the first pair of the domestically-designed APR1400 reactors - Shin Kori 3 and 4 - was authorised in 2006, although the actual construction licence was not issued until April 2008.

First concrete for Shin Kori 3 was poured in October 2008, with that for unit 4 following in August 2009. Unit 3 was originally scheduled to enter commercial operation at the end of 2013, with unit 4 due to start in September 2014. However, their operation was delayed by the need to test safety-related control cabling and its subsequent replacement.

Unit 3 eventually reached first criticality in December 2015, was connected to the grid in January 2016 and entered commercial operation in December that year.

KHNP completed cold hydrostatic testing and hot functional testing of Shin Kori 4 in November 2015 and April 2016, respectively. The company announced in August 2017 that it expected to load fuel into the unit last January, with commercial operation beginning in September. However, it said fuel loading was delayed due to slight improvements in the unit's design resulting from commissioning work carried out so far. Additional seismic assessment work has also been carried out in response to the Gyeongju earthquake in September 2016 and the Pohang earthquake in November 2017.

At a meeting on 1 February, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission approved the start up of Shin Kori 4 after considering the results of an inspection carried out by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.

Construction of two further 1350 MWe APR1400 pressurised water reactors at Shin Kori - units 5 and 6 - began in April 2017 and September 2018, respectively. Unit 5 is scheduled to begin commercial operation in March 2022, with unit 6 following one year later. Two further APR1400 units are under construction in South Korea as units 1 and 2 of the Shin Hanul site.

Four APR1400s are under construction at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates. All four are scheduled to be in operation by 2020.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News