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N. Korea on high alert for radioactive damage from Japan: scholar

All Headlines 11:05 March 29, 2011

By Sam Kim

MUNSAN, South Korea, March 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is on high alert for any possible radioactive damage from an unfolding nuclear crisis in neighboring Japan, a senior North Korean scholar said Tuesday during talks with South Korea on a possible volcano in the communist state.

The comment was made by Yoo Yong-geun, head of a North Korean delegation who traveled earlier in the day to this South Korean border town of Munsan to discuss joint ways to respond if Mount Paekdu in the North is found to have an active volcanic core.

"We are actively watching, worrying that radioactive contamination may reach us" from Japan, where firefighters are struggling to contain radioactive leaks from a northeastern nuclear plant hit by a major earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

Yoon did not elaborate on what measures his government was taking to protect its population. Despite the direction of winds that normally blow from west to east, traces of radioactive material have been detected in South Korea, raising alarm here, according to a state nuclear safety agency on Tuesday.

"Due to the proximity, (events in Japan) seem to affect us," Yoon told four South Korean scholars attending the first-ever inter-Korean volcano talks. Yoon, deputy head of a volcano research institute, added underground water fluctuated and mud seeped from spring water following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake off Japan's east coast.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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