A nuclear plant and industrial giants in South Korea began taking precautions with the most powerful storm in the nation’s history poised to make landfall early Tuesday, after disrupting ports and air traffic across China and Japan.
Run rates of three reactors at the Kori Nuclear Power Plant were lowered to less than 30% to prepare for Super Typhoon Hinnamnor, which is expected to hit the resort island of Jeju and the key industrial city of Ulsan on the country’s southeast coast.
South Korea’s top steelmaker Posco Holdings Inc. is considering a partial closure of its plant in Pohang and shipbuilders, including Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co. and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., were also debating whether to halt production, the companies said Monday.
Hinnamnor has disrupted port operations, airline services and schools across Asia since developing last month. Shanghai’s major container port of Yangshan halted terminal operations, while South Korea’s Busan and Ulsan ports have also closed. Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc. cancelled more than 170 domestic flights for Monday and Tuesday, and some airline arrivals and departures in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa were also scrapped. Some schools in both South Korea and China will be closed for safety reasons.
The super typhoon, which is forecast to be even more destructive than Typhoon Sarah in 1959, was heading north at about 24 kilometers (14.9 miles) per hour, some 400 kilometers south-southwest off the coast of Jeju as of 9 a.m Seoul time, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration. The storm is currently packing sustained winds of about 127 miles (204 kilometers) per hour with gusts around 155 mph, according to the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
President Yoon Suk Yeol said the government will stay on its toes to protect the lives and safety of citizens, while the country’s Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said there is a concern that the worsening weather from the typhoon may affect consumer prices at a time when inflation remains high. On Sunday, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters raised an emergency alert and escalated a typhoon warning.
South Korea’s biggest oil refiner SK Innovation Co. has suspended crude vessels from entering its Ulsan port and is working on securing a backup power supply at the plant, a company spokesman said. GS Caltex Corp. said it has also evacuated ships to a safety zone. LG Chem Ltd. is operating under an emergency response plan with strengthened safety monitoring of its plants in Yeosu and Ulsan.
State-owned Korea Electric Power Corp. was taking measures to ensure a stable supply of electricity. Subsidiary Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. lowered output at the Kori nuclear plant preemptively to guard against any abrupt disruptions if reactors are directly impacted by Hinnamnor.