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S. Korea to spend US$500,000 on 'floating toilets' after US warning

SEOUL -- South Korea will spend over half a million dollars on building floating toilets around shellfish farms to boost sanitary controls, officials said Wednesday, after U.S. health authorities warned of contamination.

The first of 11 facilities, which each cost 60 million won (US$53,300), appeared on Tuesday off the southern port city of Tongyeong as part of a 1.1-billion-won project by South Gyeongsang province.

The toilets, to be used by crew of the small fishing vessels who work the farms, sit on a floating pontoon that contains a state-of-the-art purification system.

The project was launched after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June urged restaurants and food outlets to stop selling all fresh, frozen and canned oysters, clams and mussels from South Korea.

The FDA said the products may have been exposed to human fecal waste and contaminated with norovirus, which causes nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

Taiwan and Canada have also banned imports of oysters from South Korea.

“The province is building 11 floating toilets in waters, which were designated by the FDA for close watch,” a provincial government official told AFP.

“This project underlines our efforts to stop pollution from human fecal waste,” the official said.

The province is also setting up fixed toilets at all 103 fish and seafood farms along its southern coast.

FDA officials are scheduled to inspect the area in October.

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