Team Concludes Agent Orange Investigation in South Korea

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea, Dec. 30, 2011 — A joint U.S.-South Kore­an inves­ti­ga­tion team announced that it dis­cov­ered no evi­dence of Agent Orange dur­ing its probe into claims that the tox­ic defo­liant was buried on Camp Car­roll.

Led by Dr. Gon Ok, Poky­ong Nation­al University’s chief pro­fes­sor, and Army Col. Joseph F. Birch­meier, U.S. Forces Korea engi­neer, the team con­clud­ed its eight-month inves­ti­ga­tion Dec. 29 at a press con­fer­ence in South Korea’s Chilgok Coun­ty Office.

The inves­ti­ga­tion began in May fol­low­ing a report on KPHO TV in Phoenix where U.S. vet­er­ans claimed they buried Agent Orange on the mil­i­tary base in south­east­ern South Korea in 1978.

Birch­meier, the lead U.S. inves­ti­ga­tor, said the bilat­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion found no evi­dence that Agent Orange was buried on Camp Car­roll and dis­cov­ered no risk to pub­lic health on the U.S. Army post.

“I want you to know that we have found no defin­i­tive evi­dence that Agent Orange was buried or stored on Camp Car­roll,” Birch­meier said. Dur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion, the team inter­viewed 172 for­mer Kore­an civil­ian employ­ees and U.S. sol­diers and worked with 32 dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment agencies.

A doc­u­ment review revealed that all 380 bar­rels of Agent Orange brought into South Korea in 1968 were used by the Repub­lic of Korea Army to reduce areas for ene­my con­ceal­ment inside the Kore­an Demil­i­ta­rized Zone that same year.

The team also con­duct­ed an exhaus­tive geo­phys­i­cal sur­vey with ground-pen­e­trat­ing radar, elec­tri­cal resis­tiv­i­ty and mag­ne­tome­ters of the area where the Agent Orange alleged­ly was buried. Based on the results of the geo­phys­i­cal sur­vey, water and soil sam­ples were tak­en to check for the com­pounds of Agent Orange and its spe­cif­ic diox­in byproducts.

All sam­ples were test­ed by South Kore­an and U.S. sci­en­tists. The U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers Far East Dis­trict ver­i­fied the U.S. ana­lyt­i­cal results, and Seoul Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty, Pohang Uni­ver­si­ty of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, and Puky­ong Uni­ver­si­ty ana­lyzed the samples.

The inves­ti­ga­tion was con­duct­ed in con­sul­ta­tion with the sta­tus-of-forces agree­ment envi­ron­men­tal sub­com­mit­tee, which will han­dle future envi­ron­men­tal issues.

“Noth­ing is more impor­tant than the health and safe­ty of our peo­ple and our Kore­an neigh­bors in the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties,” said Army Brig. Gen. David J. Con­boy, deputy com­mand­ing gen­er­al for Eighth Army. “This joint inves­ti­ga­tion was thor­ough, sci­en­tif­ic and com­plete, and I’m hap­py to report that there is no threat to pub­lic health and no evi­dence that Agent Orange was buried on the post.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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