Sungwoo Park and Eunkyung Seo
April 11, 2011

April 12 (Bloomberg) — More than 1,000 kilometers from Tokyo, Seoul is having its very own crisis of faith in tap water, and radiation isn’t to blame.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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In South Korea, the carcasses of 9.7 million cattle, pigs and poultry were buried in mass graves across the frozen countryside after outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and bird- flu last winter. That’s raised concerns that pollutants may enter groundwater now that the soil has thawed, said Jun Kwan Soo, a professor of environmental engineering at Yeungnam University.

The failure to contain foot-and-mouth disease and properly dispose of the animals prompted Agriculture Minister Yoo Jeong Bok to offer his resignation on Jan. 28, while Prime Minister Kim Hwang Sik on March 24 estimated the financial cost of the outbreak and cleanup to be about $2.8 billion. South Korea is monitoring more than 4,000 burial sites after repairing 417 to ensure pollutants are kept out of the water supply, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said March 31. […]

Some graves were dug near rivers and on mountain slopes, and typically lined with sheets of vinyl that weren’t sealed at the seams, Lee Byoung Guan, Deputy Director of the National Veterinary Research & Quarantine Service, said by telephone on March 31. In the worst cases, animals were buried alive, he said.

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