No Progress on Polluted Hoeryong Stream

Despite the difficulty Hoeryong area residents
are facing in securing safe drinking water due to chemical contamination in
a stream from gold mining, state officials have taken no concrete steps to
resolve the situation, Daily NK has learned. 

“The state has demanded money from the
residents [to build a purification system] to deal with the issue,
but no one is paying,” a source in North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK on
Thursday. “Despite this situation, the state isn’t doing anything to resolve
the problem–only standing idly by.” The stream is facing
severe pollution from potassium cyanide, a highly toxic chemical used in the
Changdu gold mine near Hoeryong, as reported by Daily NK on March 3rd.

The contaminated water produced from the
mine is flowing into the stream without going through any purification process. After making no effort to install a filtering system for the
chemicals at the mine, the state is now belatedly trying to force people into
paying money for the construction of a water purification system. However, with no
payments coming in the issue seems to have been abandoned.

“The state keeps saying people should just boil the water before drinking it [which requires the resources to do so] and then ordered each household to pay
100,000 KPW [12.50 USD]. These are just tactics that dump the responsibility on the residents,” he pointed out. “It looks like they lack any desire to tackle the Hoeryong Stream pollution issue–it’s clear they don’t care at all about people’s health.” 

Some residents have been suffering from
stomach pains or diarrhea, while others are rendered unable to work at the markets because of severe upper respiratory complications, according to the source. He said that such dire circumstances normally warrant a visit from the central authorities, which is why this overt lack of action is so perplexing to the population.

“It has been over a month since people have
been experiencing symptoms, but no one has even been investigating the cause. Now, some are trying to find their own solutions,” the source reported. “A number of
residents are looking into construction costs, pointing out that they might just build a little dam themselves.”

While innovation and resilience are deep-seated attributes of a population long left to depend on itself for survival, the source cited the potential dam initiative as a profound development. “The water quality has been bad for a long time–and for just as long, people just drank it so long as it wasn’t muddy. To be honest, it was hard enough to get by, so residents just accepted things as they were,” he said. “But now, we do see
some people proactively looking for solutions.”

*The contents of this article were broadcast to the North Korean people via Unification Media Group.

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