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Report: North Korea uranium plant may be sending toxic waste into river

By
Elizabeth Shim
A uranium concentration plant in North Korea is raising concerns. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
A uranium concentration plant in North Korea is raising concerns. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A North Korean uranium plant could be sending toxic waste into the Yellow Sea on the western coast of the Korean Peninsula through an adjoining river, according to a U.S. analyst.

Jacob Bogle, an independent expert who analyzes satellite images of the reclusive regime, told Radio Free Asia a uranium concentration plant in Pyongsan could be emitting radioactive waste as a byproduct, as uranium is extracted from coal.

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Analysis indicates toxic sludge from the North Korean factory could flow into the Ryesong River, in North Hwanghae Province, which could eventually empty into the Yellow Sea, a body of water shared by North and South Korea, as well as China.

RFA's report comes after Bogle made his findings public on his personal blog.

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"Thanks to Google Earth, we can identify that the pipe taking waste materials to the open reservoir has leaks and has been spilling toxic water into the Ryesong's tributary," Bogle wrote.

Hankwon Choi, a nuclear expert at AECOM in the United States, told RFA the Pyongsan uranium plant should be a cause for concern only if the waste from the plant is the byproduct of the separation of uranium isotopes. Uranium simply being extracted from coal does not necessarily pose a threat, Choi said.

The United States has called on North Korea to take steps toward denuclearization, a request that has been ignored. Early Friday North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles, with a top speed of approximately Mach 6.1, according to South Korean officials.

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Kyodo News reported Friday Japan is willing to supply robotics technology to the United States that could help with future dismantling nuclear facilities in the North.

The technology is identical to that which was used in the decommissioning operation at Fukushima's Daiichi nuclear power plant.

U.S. officials have previously told their Japanese counterparts there is a possibility the area near North Korea's nuclear facilities includes radioactive waste, according to the report.

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