Another allegation of Agent Orange at U.S. base

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Another allegation of Agent Orange at U.S. base

The Ministry National Defense said yesterday it will soon investigate another allegation that the U.S. military buried the highly toxic defoliant Agent Orange at one of its former bases in South Korea, amid growing concerns over possible environmental contamination.

Since mid-May, Korea and the U.S. have undertaken a joint probe into a U.S. military base in Chilgok, southeast of Seoul, where some retired American soldiers claimed that they helped bury drums of leftover Agent Orange there in 1978.

The claims of Agent Orange being buried at Camp Carroll have sparked a series of allegations by former U.S. soldiers and local residents that the U.S. military dumped other chemicals at its former or current military bases in South Korea.

Last week, some retired American soldiers raised a second allegation that Agent Orange was buried at a former U.S. base, Camp Page, in Chuncheon. Camp Page was turned over to South Korea in 2005.

“We will open a further investigation on suspicion that the defoliant was buried at Camp Page in Chuncheon,” Vice Defense Minister Lee Yong-gul told reporters.

“After reviewing other allegations that Agent Orange was buried at other former U.S. military bases, we will consider expanding our investigation if necessary.”

Ministry officials said the investigation at Camp Page would start as early as next week.

The defense ministry has surveyed 85 former U.S. installations that were turned over to South Korea before 2003 as part of the relocation of U.S. bases. No evidence backing the allegations has been found yet.

Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant widely used during the Vietnam War, was sprayed by U.S. Forces Korea in the 1960s around the demilitarized zone to thwart North Korean infiltrations.

Contaminated by dioxin, the defoliant is suspected of causing serious health problems, including cancer and genetic damage, as well as birth defects.

About 28,500 U.S. soldiers are based in South Korea under a mutual defense treaty pact signed during the 1950-1953 Korean War.


한글 관련 기사 [연합]

춘천시 캠프페이지 고엽제 매몰의혹 추가조사 요청

춘천의 옛 미군기지 캠프페이지 고엽제 매몰 의혹과 관련, 춘천시가 국방부에 최근 추가조사를 요청하는 공식 문서를 보냈다.

10일 춘천시에 따르면 최근 미군부대 내 고엽제 매몰 의혹을 해소하기 위해 추가조사를 해 달라고 요청하는 공문을 지난 8일자로 발송했다.

춘천시 관계자는 "추가조사 요청에 대한 국방부의 공식답변을 기다리고 있으며 국방부가 SOFA 규정에 따른 절차를 밟아 조만간 재조사 계획을 마련할 계획인 것으로 파악하고 있다"라고 밝혔다.

특히 이날 국방부가 브리핑을 통해 춘천캠프페이지에 대해서는 환경부의 협조를 받아 추가조사를 추진할 계획이라고 발표한데 대해 춘천시는 '고엽제 매몰 의혹이 해소되는 수준'의 조사를 요구한다는 방침이다.

앞서 지난달 춘천시는 주민들 사이에 과거 주한미군기지였던 캠프페이지도 화학물질에 오염됐을 수 있다는 우려가 제기되자 국방부에 고엽제 매몰여부와 추가 발견 가능성 등을 질의하는 공문을 보냈었다.

이에 따라 국방부가 고엽제와 관련한 의심물질은 없다고 발표했지만 퇴역 미군의 증언에 따른 매몰 의혹이 끊이지 않자 지난 2일 국방부 주한미군기지이전사업단이 환경정화사업이 진행중인 캠프페이지 현장을 찾아 춘천시 환경정화 자문위원 등과 현장토론회를 갖고 추가 조사를 검토하겠다고 밝힌 바 있다.

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