South Korean and U.S. troops sprayed toxic defoliant Agent Orange and other herbicides over 6,840 hectares of the Demilitarized Zone between 1968 and 1969, in an effort to thwart North Korean infiltrations, a report said Friday.
The estimated size of the areas on which Agent Orange was sprayed was about 14 percent of the southern side of the DMZ, the 4-kilometer-wide, 249-kilometer-long buffer zone dividing the two Koreas since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, according to the report released by Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the ruling Grand National Party.
The report comes at a time when South Korean and U.S. officials are jointly investigating claims emerging since mid-May by retired American soldiers that they helped dump large amounts of the toxic chemical in 1978 inside Camp Carroll in Chilgok, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
Both South Korea and the U.S. have confirmed the spraying of Agent Orange, widely used during the Vietnam War, in the South in the 1960s to destroy dense foliage in the DMZ.
The report disclosed by Yoon found that the volumes of herbicides sprayed over the DMZ in 1968 were 20,350 gallons of Agent Orange, 34,375 gallons of Agent Blue and 180.4 tons of monuron.
In 1969, the allies sprayed 3,905 gallons of Agent Blue, one of the herbicides that was also used during the Vietnam War, and 30.7 tons of monuron over the DMZ, it said.
The volumes of the herbicides sprayed were similar to a report unveiled by the South’s Defense Ministry in 1999, ministry officials said.
Agent Orange is suspected of causing serious health problems, including cancer and genetic damage, among some people, as well as birth defects in their children. The defoliant was contaminated by dioxin, a highly toxic substance.