Go to contents

Fabricating evidence should not be tolerated

Posted October. 22, 2020 07:52,   

Updated October. 22, 2020 07:52


A recent audit has revealed that the results of the economic eval‎uation of Unit 1 of the Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant have been manipulated to shut down the reactor early. While some demand a more thorough investigation, others argue that the government’s nuclear phase out scheme, which was initiated by the closure of Wolseong Unit 1, has to be reviewed as government agencies such as the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) meddled with the eval‎uation.

The government and the ruling party insist that the overall eval‎uation of the reactor, which also includes safety and residents’ acceptance supports the early closure of Wolseong Unit 1 anyway. However, the KHNP told the board in 2018 that Wolseong Unit 1 satisfied all safety requirements. Residents did not raise an objection as to the extended operation of the plant. According to the Board of Audit and Inspection, officials at MOTIE and KHNP hoped to extend the operation until Baek Un-gyu, then minister of trade, industry and energy, heard in April 2018 that President Moon Jae-in asked when the decision to shut down the plant would be made. The Board of Audit and Inspection has withheld its judgment about whether the decision on early closure is justifiable, which means it has not yet confirmed it is justifiable.

Nuclear plant policies are part of the national energy scheme, which should transcend different governments. The Moon Jae-in administration said it would decommission all nuclear reactors except for 14 units by 2038 by not extending the operation of old reactors. Given the fabricated eval‎uation results, the incumbent administration should slow down and review its nuclear energy policies instead of pushing ahead with its original plan.

The economic eval‎uation is used to make important policy decisions, and therefore everyone involved in the fabrication should pay the price. It is a grave violation of laws to cherry pick information and fabricate evidence to justify the early closure or delete and dispose of audit data. However, the Board of Audit and Inspection has only asked to penalize two public servants who deleted the data and has not charged against government officials who led the entire scheme. No wonder why people say it is a slap on the wrist.

The ministry’s efforts to systematically remove evidence should not go unpunished either. Not only should the prosecution launch an investigation into those who were involved in the manipulation of eval‎uation results, but it should also recover the 120 files the Board of Audit and Inspection could not and find out what the ministry officials are trying to hide. If there was pressure from the outside, it should also find who was behind it. There should be no place in the government for those who even think about destroying evidence.