Steve House, a U.S. veteran who first alleged the burial of Agent Orange by U.S. forces at one of their army bases here, said Monday that he clearly remembered where he helped bury drums believed to be containing the highly toxic defoliant decades ago.
His testimony, made before several members of the Korean parliament in Seoul, runs counter to findings so far of an on-site investigation led by Korean and U.S. experts.
|Steve House (right) and Phil Stewart testify on the alleged burial of Agent Orange at a U.S. army base in Korea at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, Monday. (Yang Dong-chul/The Korea Herald)|
The joint investigation team has so far not found evidence to suggest metallic drums are buried underneath the helipad at Camp Carroll, which House pinpointed as the burial site.
“I am here today to try to help get the truth out and help Korean people to get to the bottom of it,” wheelchair-bound House said at the National Assembly, in Yeouido, Seoul. He claims that he suffers from health problems because of his exposure to the defoliant.
Agent Orange, widely used by the U.S. forces during the Vietnam War, is believed to cause a number of fatal diseases and severe birth defects.
House said in spring or early summer of 1978, he was ordered to dig a hole in Area D at Camp Carroll, where he was stationed. Green 55-gallon drums ― on which “Agent Orange” was written in scarlet ― were buried there, he said.
The veteran was confident that he could identify the site of the burial. He plans to visit Chilgok, North Gyeongsang Province, where Camp Carroll is located, on Wednesday.
House arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a six-day stay, on the invitation of a group of Korean activists who demand a thorough probe into the Agent Orange claims. Phil Stewart, another U.S. veteran who made a similar claim, also came here on the groups’ invitation.
Stewart claims the U.S. forces leaked the defoliant into Imjin River, near the border of two Koreas, while he was stationed in South Korea in the late 1960s.
“I am here to bring some of the truth about where Agent Orange was used, other than where U.S. army and the U.S. forces say it was used 40 years ago,” he said.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)