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S. Korea to beef up safety measures on old heating pipes

All News 10:36 December 13, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will fix or replace old heating pipes showing abnormal signs and step up monitoring to prevent reoccurrence of plumbing accidents, a state-run heating operator said Thursday.

The Korea District Heating Corp. (KDHC) announced a series of safety measures after a heating pipe burst last week in Goyang, north of Seoul, claiming one life and injuring several pedestrians.

The KDHC said an emergency inspection, conducted following the Dec. 4 accident, revealed a total of 204 heating pipes more than 20 years old that showed signs of vulnerability in cold weather. Among them, 16 were considered at risk of plumbing accidents due to the big temperature difference between the pipe and the ground in the winter months.

Inspectors have dug up five spots and replaced one pipe that leaked water, noting they will drill 11 other sites to check for problems.

"We will take preemptive measures on 443 sites that have the same connecting structure with the broken pipe in Goyang to deal with safety concerns, by repairing or replacing them within this winter season," the KDHC said in a release.

The state utility firm said it will carry out in-depth analysis into aged pipes until Jan. 12 to prevent leakage or explosion during the cold season.

In light of the recent accident, the KDHC said it plans to quintuple the annual budget for heating pipe maintenance to 100 billion won (US$88.8 million) to tighten monitoring and enhance safety measures on pipes installed before 1998.

Employees of the Korea District Heating Corp. inspect heating pipes in Bundang, south of Seoul, with a thermal camera installed on top of a vehicle on Dec. 6, 2018. (Yonhap)

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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