Two U.S. Air Force bases in Korea have received shipments of recycled plutonium, which may pose health risks to humans, a U.S. daily said in a recent report.
Citing the outcome of studies recently conducted by the U.S. Federal government, USA Today, in its June 24 edition, said that as much as 250,000 tons of "tainted" uranium has been circulated among hundreds of the country's government plants, private firms and university labs in the last 50 years.
The report said that the country's weapons program has also sent thousands of tons of depleted uranium to overseas sites, whose list includes Suwon Air Base and Cheongju Air Base.
The report indicated that most of the uranium probably contained negligible levels of impurities, no more than those expected from natural uranium.
However, it said the Federal studies found that over a dozen U.S. recycling facilities, including those operating in Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, had processed uranium "in ways that concentrated its highly radioactive contaminants," which included plutonium.
The report said that thousands of workers at these sites may have been exposed to high levels of radioactivity, thus increasing their chances of developing cancer and other diseases.
The report did not rule out the possibility that radioactive materials could have infiltrated the soil and underground water surrounding these facilities.
By Kim Min-hee Staff reporter