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Drum-like objects detected in probe for Agent Orange

July 8, 2011 - 20:27 By 이선영
Korea-U.S. investigation team finds suspicious spots in Camp Carroll

CHILGOK, North Gyeongsang Province ― A joint Korea-U.S. investigation team found signs that metallic objects, shaped like drums, may be buried underground at one of the U.S. military camps in Korea, team officials said Friday.

The team will now take samples of soil from as far as 10 meters deep to verify a claim by U.S. veteran Steve House that he helped bury hundreds of drums believed to contain Agent Orange near a helipad in Camp Carroll, located in this rural town of Chilgok, in 1978.

“Our geophysical surveys of the helipad area found some anomaly. We will now proceed with coring, a process of taking samples of soil,” Ok Gon, one of the two co-chairs of the investigation team, told reporters on Camp Carroll, announcing interim results of the probe.

The joint survey team comprises 16 Koreans and 10 Americans and is co-chaired by Ok, a professor of Bookyung University, and Colonel Joseph F. Birchmeier of the U.S. Army.

Through three-method study ― magnetic radar, ground-penetrating radar and electrical resistivity survey ― they detected anomalous signals that may indicate something metallic buried underground, Kim Chang-ryeol, one of the Korean investigators, explained.

“According to the results of the geophysical survey on Helipad Area 1, the joint investigation team agreed to collect core soil samples on a total of 40 locations in the area identified as the alleged burial site of Agent Orange,” the team said in a press release.

Colonel Birchmeier, the other co-chair, said the planned test of soil samples will “answer at least one of the two questions that the team has ― whether the health of those living on Camp Carroll or outside the camp is under threat, and potentially the second one ― whether drums of Agent Orange are actually buried here.”

Agent Orange, a defoliant widely used by the U.S. during the Vietnam War, is believed to cause cancer, birth defects and other diseases.

The geographic survey was conducted on the helipad only, the area identified by House as the burial site of Agent Orange.

On May 22, the Eighth Army admitted that chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and solvents had been buried at Camp Carroll in 1978, but that the materials and 60 tons of dirt were subsequently removed in 1979-1980. The drums were said to have been buried in the Area 41, later moved to Area D, which is adjacent to the helipad, but it is unknown where they went afterwards.

The investigation is currently going on in the water underneath the helipad area and the soil and groundwater of Area D. Results are scheduled to be released by late July, the team said.

Groundwater sampling from monitoring wells and geographical surveys on Area 41 are scheduled to begin July 25.

“With all the interviews and test results we have seen thus far, there is no indication that Agent Orange was present in Camp Carroll,” Birchmeier said.

By Lee Sun-young (