Gyeonggi to check for dioxins near basesThe Gyeonggi Institute of Health and Environment, under the Gyeonggi provincial government, said yesterday it will check for highly toxic dioxins in water and soil around 28 U.S. military bases in the province. The decision comes as Korea and the United States jointly investigate recent claims that U.S. soldiers dumped large amounts of toxic chemicals in Korea.
Both Korea and the U.S. have confirmed that Agent Orange, widely used during the Vietnam War, was sprayed in the 1960s to destroy dense foliage in the DMZ.
Camp Carroll in Chilgok, North Gyeongsang, and Camp Mercer in Bucheon, Gyeonggi, have been cited by retired American soldiers as bases where chemicals were allegedly buried in the 1960s and 1970s.
The inspection for dioxin contamination around Camp Mercer is under way and the institute said its investigation in other areas in the province will begin later this month.
“To actually inspect inside the U.S. bases, we would need to consult with the U.S. forces under the Status of Forces Agreement,” a Gyeonggi official said, referring to a legal code governing U.S. troops stationed here. “For the time being, we will check areas we can inspect independently.”
The institute said it typically takes up to 30 days to analyze samples for dioxin content but it will work to minimize the time frame. There are 93 U.S. military bases across Korea, and 51 of them are located in Gyeonggi.