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Christians demand toxic chemical probe

Alleged dumping of Agent Orange by US forces sparks anger after TV report

Civic groups protestin front of the US Embassy in Seoul (photo: Korea Foundation for Environmental Movement) Civic groups protestin front of the US Embassy in Seoul (photo: Korea Foundation for Environmental Movement)
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • May 25, 2011
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Christian environmentalists are urging a thorough investigation following a US TV report which alleged American forces dumped Vietnam-war era Agent Orange on Korean territory.

In a May 13 report, KPHO a television station based in Phoenix, Arizona, said US forces in Korea buried around 250 drums each containing about 208 liters of the defoliant at Camp Carroll army base in 1978.

The report cited three US veterans who claimed they buried the toxic chemical at the camp, some 225 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

One of the veterans, Steve House, 54, claimed precautions to protect environment were never taken.

The revelation has raised concerns about potential environmental damage in the area and possible health risks to the public.

Experts say the buried Agent Orange could cause long-term environmental damage.

Father Stephen Yang Ki-suk, secretary of the Korean Bishops’ Committee for Environment, said the dumping of the toxic chemical, if true, is “a great wrong.”

A thorough investigation into the claim is essential, Father Yang said, urging the US government to take action to prevent a recurrence of the incident and clean up the site if the investigation unearths the chemical.

South Korea and the US governments have agreed to launch a joint investigation, amid increasing public anger.

Reverend Yang Jae-sung, secretary general of the Korea Christian Environmental Movement Solidarity, however, said a joint probe should include non-governmental experts to ensure transparency.

He called on the US government to make an official apology if the probe proves the dumping did take place.

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