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Gov't analyzing seawater amid reports of possible radioactive waste leak from N.K.

All Headlines 11:53 August 28, 2019

SEOUL, Aug. 28 (Yonhap) -- The government is analyzing seawater collected from near the inter-Korean maritime border, the unification ministry said Wednesday, amid reports of possible leak of radioactive waste from a North Korean uranium factory into the Yellow Sea.

Earlier this month, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that a uranium concentration plant in Pyongsan, in North Korea's southwestern province of Hwanghae, could be emitting radioactive waste into the sea via the Ryesong River, citing satellite images.

"Following the media reports, the government is analyzing the seawater collected from near the northern limit line (NLL) on Friday morning," ministry spokesperson Lee Sang-min told a regular press briefing. "It will take around two weeks for the inspection results to come out."

The NLL is the de facto maritime border separating the two Koreas.

Lee noted, however, that there are only uranium mines and a refining plant in Pyongsan, citing experts as saying that they are unlikely to produce radioactive waste or other highly radioactive materials that could be harmful to humans.

On Tuesday, 38 North, a website monitoring and analyzing North Korea, wrote that reporting on the leakage of waste from Pyongsan is "accurate," though adding that the "observed leakage is less extensive than" earlier media reports.

"Perhaps even more important than the environmental impact, operation of the facility is another indication that Pyongyang is continuing and prioritizing its program to produce highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons," 38 North said.

Gov't analyzing seawater amid reports of possible radioactive waste leak from N.K. - 1

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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