The U.S. military has admitted it buried large numbers of drums with chemicals, insecticides, herbicides and solvents in 1978 at Camp Carroll located in Waegwan, North Gyeongsang Province, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers records from 1992. The confirmation by the Eighth U.S. Army, which oversees the base, follows revelations by American veterans that they buried hundreds of drums of Agent Orange left over from the Vietnam War there.
The Eighth Army says that the drums and a great deal of contaminated soil were dug out between 1979 and 1980 and disposed of elsewhere.
The U.S. Forces Korea also revealed that it conducted tests in 2004 by digging 13 holes in the soil near the area where drums of the toxic defoliant were apparently buried, and one of them came up with “traces” of dioxin.
It remains unclear whether the drums the Eighth Army is talking about are the same ones the veterans mentioned, but chances are that they are. The U.S. should never have buried them there in the first place, but it would certainly be a relief if they were dug out a year or two later.
What remains to be done is to conduct a thorough investigation to eliminate every shadow of suspicion. First of all, investigators need to find out if the drums that were buried and dug out again contained Agent Orange, as the veterans claimed. If there are no records left, then investigators need to question soldiers who served at the base, or dig.
Another area of suspicion is whether it was really only traces of dioxin that were found in 2004. The U.S. military belatedly admitted that the chemical was dioxin but the levels were not hazardous to humans. Koreans are well aware of fears surrounding the toxicity of dioxin. The U.S. military must disclose all results of soil tests at Camp Carroll and come clean about the exact amount of dioxin that was discovered. Even the slightest hint that the U.S. military is hiding something could lead to widespread public distrust.
The USFK said the drums were dug out and disposed of "elsewhere." Was it safely disposed of? Dioxin needs to be burned or chemically treated to be properly disposed of. The USFK needs to explain clearly how and where it got rid of the defoliants and other chemicals.