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South Korean environmental activists like Kim Hoon (pictured) worry about the environmental impact of South Korea's chipmaking boom. In Pyeongtaek, hot wastewater from a nearby plant could alter ecosystems in local rivers. (Photo by Jean Chung)
The Big Story

South Korea's chip ambitions threaten big environmental toll

As chip giants like Samsung and SK Hynix expand production, locals fear water contamination

STEVEN BOROWIEC, Contributing writer | South Korea

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea -- Nowadays when Kim Hoon strolls along the streams that run through his hometown, he notices clouds of vapor rising off the water's surface.

The streams flow between growing clusters of semiconductor factories in what not long ago was a quiet community of farmers growing cabbages and green onions. The plumes of frothy mist are created when hot wastewater from the chip plants comes into contact with the cold of the stream.

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