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Top North Korean defense official replaced, South Korea says

SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, has replaced his defense minister with a hard-line general as part of his effort to fill the army leadership with a new generation of officers loyal to him, South Korean officials said Thursday.

Kim Kyok Sik replaced Kim Jong Gak as minister of the People’s Armed Forces, said two government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing government policy on intelligence matters. Kim Kyok Sik commanded North Korean units accused by the South of sinking one of its warships and shelling a South Korean border island in 2010. Fifty South Koreans were killed in the two 2010 episodes, although the North denies sinking the warship.

“We have enough intelligence to believe that the minister was replaced, though our policy is not to officially confirm such a matter until North Korea confirms itself,” one of the South Korean officials said.

The Associated Press reported from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, that diplomats, whom it did not identify, said they had been informed of the replacement of the defense minister.

For months, South Korean officials have suspected that a prolonged reshuffling of the North Korean party and military hierarchy has been under way, apparently beginning with the dismissal of Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho as army chief in July.

—Choe Sang-hun, The New York Times

As sewage flows after storm, flaws in system are exposed

EAST ROCKAWAY, N.Y. — The water flowing out of the Bay Park sewage plant here on Long Island is a greenish-gray soup of partially treated human waste, a sign of an environmental and public health disaster that officials say will be one of the most enduring and expensive effects of Hurricane Sandy.

In the month since the storm, hundreds of millions of gallons of raw and partly raw sewage from Bay Park and other crippled treatment plants have flowed into waterways in New York and New Jersey, exposing flaws in the region’s wastewater infrastructure that could take several years and billions of dollars to fix.

In New York state alone, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has estimated that about $1.1 billion will be needed to repair treatment plants. But officials now acknowledge that they will have to do far more.

Motors and electrical equipment must be raised above newly established flood levels, and circuitry must be made waterproof. Dams and levees may have to be built at some treatment plants to keep the rising waters at bay, experts say.

Failure to do so, according to experts, could leave large swaths of the population vulnerable to public health and environmental hazards in future storms.

—Michael Schwirtz, The New York Times