Amid confirmation that the U.S. military dumped toxic chemicals on Korean soil in 1978, a new testimony has surfaced, saying that orders were given to remove all supplies of dioxins in Korea around the same time.
“I was given orders, probably general orders to all units as well, to remove all remaining supplies of dioxin from warehouses throughout all the 2nd Division,” said Larry Anderson, a former U.S. soldier with the 2ID from 1977-1978.
The testimony further escalates the nation’s already heightened fear of toxic contamination, especially those living near former and current United States Forces Korea installations.
Anderson, stationed at Camp Mercer in 1968 and along the DMZ in 1977-1978, posted the testimony on the “Korean War Project” a website for former U.S. Forces Korea Troops, and said the same in a 1999 interview with The Korea Herald.
“AO (Agent Orange) was widely, much more than reported, used (in Korea),” said Anderson.
He went to describe how Agent Orange was sprayed several times all over Camp Mercer including around buildings, latrines and even mess halls, to “kill vegetation.”
The timeframe of Anderson’s account aligns with the accounts of whistleblower Steve House, who recently told local news that more and more witnesses are coming forward and Ray Bows who also posted accounts about dumping chemicals while stationed in Korea.
According to the Defense Ministry, they have sent a team of officials and environmental experts to the former U.S. military installation in response to the claims that surfaced about Camp Mercer, in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province.
“The team plans to review environmental data of the base and check areas where chemicals were suspected of being buried,” said Kim Jung-chul, head of the ministry’s Military Installation Planning Bureau.
“If they detect any signs of pollutant contamination in the soil, we will immediately dig into the area,” he said.
Kim also added that no military records were found that support the allegation.
Ray Bows brought even more angst throughout the public through the “Korean War Project,” where a man, named Stephen Stallard, unveiled Bows’ claim with a post titled, “Chemicals dumped at Camp Mercer.”
Bows, who served for the 44th Engineer Construction Battalion at the camp in Bucheon from July 1963 to April 1964, made the claim on the website on May 24, 2004. The posting was also found on Secret to Korea.
According to the post, Bows said that the U.S. Army Chemical Depot Korea had “doned rubber suits” and “dumped every imaginable chemical ― hundreds of gallons if not more” behind a storage warehouse on the base.
In a 1991 report posted by journalist, An Chi-yong, on his website “Secret of Korea,” the U.S. Army engineer corps said that Camp Caroll was the biggest producer of harmful waste, including used oil, solvent, paint and batteries.
According to Seoul, a SOFA environmental subcommittee meeting will be held Thursday to discuss logistics regarding the Korea-U.S. joint investigation at Camp Caroll.
According to officials, Seoul initially requested the meeting take place last Wednesday, but the U.S. asked for a day later.
“Since the U.S. is proactive, if discussions go well, the investigation team may be sent out right away,” said an official.
And the allegations against the U.S. military have Washington concerned.
“We are taking these allegations very seriously and are working closely with Korean authorities,” said Leslie Hull-Ryde spokeswoman for the Pentagon, as quoted by Yonhap News Agency.
“Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, commanding general, eighth United States Army, is overseeing a thorough inquiry of these claims, and is coordinating closely with the ROK Ministries of Environment and Defense,” she said.
Exposure to the herbicide, especially a component called dioxin, has been known to cause birth defects, neural illnesses, and leukemia among other cancers and illnesses. More than 33,000 South Koreans who participated in the Vietnam War suffered from the aftereffects of exposure to the chemical.
The U.S. military is known to have sprayed herbicides south of the Demilitarized Zone from 1968-1969 to allow easier detection of North Korean infiltrators into the South.
The U.S. has some 28,500 soldiers, staff and their families stationed here, a legacy of the Korean War, mainly as a deterrent against the North.
By Robert Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)