Dioxin levels at Camp Carroll in southeastern Korea exceed standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forces Korea said Monday. Following claims by American veterans that they buried drums of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange at the base in the late 1970s, the Eighth U.S. Army admitted it already conducted tests in 2004 by digging 13 holes in the soil near the suspected site.
Samples from 12 of them came up clean, but 1.7 parts per billion of dioxin was discovered in the 13th.
The USFK said the level was only a trace amount and posed no health hazards. But it is 1.7 times higher than the level recommended by the EPA. Dioxin is among the most carcinogenic compounds in the world.
The Eighth U.S. Army admitted that a large number of drums containing chemicals, insecticides, herbicides and solvents were buried in the late 70s, but said they were moved to another location in 1979 and 1980 together with a large amount of contaminated soil, and disposed of.
Eighth Army Commander Lt. Gen. John Johnson said, "While we are not sure that what we've found directly correlates to the claims made in the media, we have discovered information about materials buried at Camp Carroll in 1978." The Eighth U.S. Army said the records were found in a research report compiled by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers in 1992.
Johnson did not say whether Agent Orange was included in the chemicals that were buried in 1978 and how they were disposed of. The U.S. military said it revealed some of that information to Korean government officials.
A team of experts from both sides is to launch an environmental probe at the U.S. military base later this week.