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No sign of drums at alleged chemicals site

July 20, 2011 - 19:53 By 이선영
Investigators say area D test results expected to come out by late July

A joint Korea-U.S. team investigating the alleged burial of Agent Orange at one of the American army camps here detected no traces of drums underground at one of the alleged burial sites, a government source said Wednesday.

The team said earlier this month that they found “anomalies” beneath the helipad at Camp Carroll located in a rural town of Chilgok, North Gyeongsang Province, through a geophysical survey. It has since collected soil samples from a total of 40 suspicious spots to determine whether there are drums underneath.

The helipad is where U.S. veteran Steve House claimed he helped bury in 1978 drums believed to contain the toxic defoliant.

“(The team) drilled (exploratory holes) until it reached bedrock at all 40 locations to take soil samples there, but found nothing special,” Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed government source as saying.

Soil samples are currently being tested for environmental and health risk assessment separately by Korean and U.S. experts.

On May 22, the U.S. 8th 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 stored in Area 41, later moved to Area D, which is adjacent to the helipad, but it is unknown where they went afterward.

The investigation into Agent Orange will cover both areas A and D.

Test results of the soil and groundwater of area D are expected to come out by late July, while groundwater sampling on Area 41 are scheduled to begin July 25. 

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

Based on a three-method study using magnetic radar, ground-penetrating radar and electrical resistivity survey, the team locates areas with anomalous signals that indicate something metallic may be buried, and then take soil samples from the suspicious areas to determine what the anomaly is.

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

By Lee Sun-young (