NCEKW June 1st Statement

STATEMENT ON THE U.S. DUMPING OF TOXIC CHEMICALS IN KOREA

---A Call for an Independent and Full Investigation---

 June 1, 2011

 On May 13, a Phoenix-based TV station, KPHO (CBS 5 News), aired an investigation report, based on the testimony of three U.S. veterans, regarding the secret dumping of hundreds of 55-gallon toxic chemical drums at a U.S. military base in South Korea. In an interview with KPHO, former Specialist Steve House, a heavy equipment operator at Camp Carroll in 1978, said that he was ordered to dig a ditch, nearly the length of a city block, and bury 55-gallon drums—some of them labeled “Compound Orange” or “Agent Orange”. (http://www.kpho.com/news/27892124/detail.html)  Agent Orange was used during the Vietnam War to defoliate jungles, but its use was halted in 1971 due to its severe health risks, and studies have shown that proximity to the chemical leads to birth defects and other illnesses.

Since this story broke, Korean media have reported similar stories of reckless U.S. dumping of various toxic chemicals at other sites in Korea.

This practice of dumping toxic chemicals apparently occurred not only on U.S. military bases but also on road sides and into rivers.

We applaud the courageous declarations of conscience by Steve House and other U.S. veterans, as well as those by some Korean civilians who witnessed such actions by U.S. military personnel, and call upon others who have further information on this dangerous scandal to come forward with their accounts.

Although the U.S. military command in Korea admitted on May 24 (Korean time) that it found a 1992 document showing that a large number of drums containing chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and solvents were buried at Camp Carroll in 1978, it is claiming that they were removed in 1979 and 1980 and disposed of offsite.  Doubts remain since the command has not publicly released this document, nor has it disclosed where the toxic materials were finally placed. (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/05/113 87584.html) Moreover, it is refusing to expand its investigation to other U.S. military sites in Korea, despite a news report of an apparently higher military order directing U.S. military units in Korea to “remove all remaining supplies of dioxin,” according to Larry Anderson, who served with the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division between 1977 and 1978. (http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2936724) This is a disappointing and worrisome response by the U.S. military command in Korea.

The testimony of the three U.S. veterans has raised serious claims that require an independent, transparent and thorough investigation by the U.S. Congress and civil society.

At stake is the health of tens of thousands of our soldiers and veterans, as well as the health of the Korean people and the future ecological sustainability of the land and rivers in South Korea.

Such an investigation cannot be left to the U.S. Forces Korea alone as some of its officers may have been directly involved in the dumping scandals. We urge all concerned Americans and civil society groups to contact members of the Armed Services Committees in the Congress, asking them to conduct their own investigations and hearings on the dumping of such toxic chemicals by the U.S. military in Korea..

 Such dangers and the continuing presence of 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea today, are legacies of the continuing Korean War that never ended with a peace treaty.

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 National Campaign To End The Korean War

(www.endthekoreanwar.org)