Traces of the lethal compound dioxin have been discovered in the underground water system of Chilgok, North Gyeongsang Province, where the U.S. military base Camp Carroll is located. Dioxin is used to produce the toxic defoliant Agent Orange, which witnesses say was buried under Camp Carroll back in 1978. It is occasionally found in the air, soil and streams, but rarely in underground water systems.
It remains unclear whether the dioxin came from chemicals buried under the base. A joint U.S-Korean investigation is underway.
A probe by a team of researchers at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) found that one of the three groundwater sources they investigated contains dioxin, prompting additional tests, sources said Thursday. The levels detected are apparently very small, but experts say that the discovery of even traces should compel authorities to stop using underground water sources for drinking water to relieve public fears.
"We informed North Gyeongsang Province of the results of our first probe on Thursday morning. The province must decide whether or not to use the underground water source," said a professor at POSTECH who conducted the investigation. "This is an extremely serious matter, so we are conducting further tests, including comparison analysis with water from an uncontaminated groundwater source."