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Joint team says metallic substances discovered under U.S. camp

All Headlines 16:52 July 08, 2011

SEOUL, July 8 (Yonhap) -- A joint South Korea-U.S. investigation team confirmed on Friday that it has detected what could be metallic drums buried under a U.S. military base where containers of toxic defoliant were allegedly dumped decades ago.

Announcing results of an interim probe, the team said it detected unidentified metal objects beneath a helipad located at Camp Carroll in Chilgok, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

Three types of geophysical survey tools, including ground-penetrating radar and electrical resistivity, were used in the survey that began early last month, it said.

The finding of what the team said could be drums is important because it matches allegations raised in May by some retired American soldiers that they were ordered to help bury a bunch of drums containing the toxic defoliant Agent Orange while they served military terms here in the late 1970's.

Agent Orange is a toxic chemical that was widely used on trees and plants during wars to make all their leaves fall off. The cancer-causing chemical was reported to have been sprayed in the 1960's around the Demilitarized Zone to thwart North Korean infiltrations.

The team said that on Friday afternoon it will begin drilling in over 40 spots under the helipad, including one where the unidentified metallic substances are buried, and take soil samples to test for pollution. The result of the soil test is due in late August, it added.

The investigators are also scheduled to make public results of their examination of water samples gathered from various parts of the camp late this month.

Civil activists and Chilgok villagers have repeatedly demanded the local government and the U.S. 8th Army stationed here disclose the truth after three United States Forces Korea veterans revealed in a May media interview that in 1978 they helped bury approximately 250 55-gallon drums of chemicals suspected to be Agent Orange.

The revelation sparked public fury in South Korea over possible environmental degradation inflicted by American forces.

In late May, the U.S. military conceded the burial took place but argued that the wastes were removed in the late 1970's and taken out of the country.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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