Team concludes Agent Orange investigation in Korea
The Republic of Korea-United States Joint 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 Pokyong National University Chief Professor Doctor Gon Ok and U.S. Forces Korea Engineer Col. Joseph F. Birchmeier, the team concluded its eight-month investigation Dec. 29 at a press conference in the Chilgok County Office.
The investigation began in May 2011 following a report on KPHO TV in Phoenix where U.S. veterans claimed they buried Agent Orange on Camp Carroll in 1978.
Birchmeier 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 Camp Carroll," said Birchmeier, the lead U.S. investigator.
During the investigation, the team interviewed 172 former Korean civilian employees and American 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 ROK 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 was allegedly 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 and future environmental issues will be handled by the subcommittee.
"Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our people and our Korean neighbors in the surrounding communities," said Eighth Army Deputy Commanding General Brig. Gen. David J. Conboy. "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."
Article by Walter T. Ham IV, Eighth Army Public Affairs