S. Korea to survey former US bases for chemicals

An official from Agent Orange victims’ Association of Da Nang
© AFP/File Hoang Dinh Nam


SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea said Monday it would conduct an environmental survey of dozens of former US military bases amid concerns over the alleged burial of a highly toxic defoliant used in the Vietnam War.

The survey follows a report by a US TV station that leftover Agent Orange was buried in 1978 at Camp Carroll, a US army logistics base at Waegwan, 216 kilometres (135 miles) southeast of Seoul.

US and South Korean investigators have launched a survey of the US camp but no significant traces of Agent Orange have been detected so far.

A US veteran also reportedly claimed last week that US troops had buried hundreds of gallons of chemicals at Camp Mercer in Bucheon, west of Seoul, between 1963 and 1964.

The defence ministry said it has formed a task force to survey 85 former US installations that were turned over to Seoul before 2003 as part of the relocation of US troops and bases.

South Korean officials, military staff and civilian experts will visit Camp Mercer Tuesday to check soil and underground water, a spokesman said.

During the Vietnam War US aircraft sprayed Agent Orange and other herbicides containing potentially cancer-causing dioxin to strip trees of foliage, in a bid to deprive communist forces of cover and food.

Vietnam says three million of its people have suffered the effects of wartime herbicides.

Some 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea under a mutual defence pact signed during the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s ruling party newspaper, said Monday the alleged chemical dumping demonstrated “deplorable master-servant” relations betwen Seoul and Washington.

“The disclosed fact provides a clear testimony that the US does not care whether South Koreans die due to poisonous materials or not,” it said.

© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license

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