Crews getting Camp Hialeah ready for South Koreans
Stars and Stripes August 21, 2006
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — With Camp Hialeah in Busan officially having closed this month, only clean-up crews and a private guard force remain behind to get the property ready for return to South Korean authorities, officials confirmed.
The U.S. Army closed the 133-acre site on Aug. 11. U.S. Forces Korea is scheduled to return it to South Korea by the end of December.
The post had served as an important logistics base for the U.S. military for more than five decades.
The return comes as part of a U.S.-South Korea agreement under which the U.S. military is closing many of its installations, returning the land to South Korea and consolidating its forces into two regional hubs, one in Pyeongtaek, the other in the Daegu-Busan region.
“We have guards at the installation and they will be there until the installation is returned,” said Kevin Jackson, chief spokesman for the Army’s Area IV Support Activity in Daegu.
In addition, two U.S. Army civilians and about 100 of the Army’s South Korean public-works employees will be carrying out the caretaker chores needed to have the site ready for handover, he said.
“The installation will go into caretaker status, whereby we will be draining hot water tanks, removing underground storage tanks, picking up trash that should be on the installation, conducting minimal grounds maintenance and removing additional equipment,” Jackson said last week.
“That additional equipment may be things like air conditioning units, water fountains, picnic tables, theater seats, those kinds of things,” Jackson said. “They’ll remove them for use at other installations, as necessary.”
Both the U.S. military and South Korean environmental officials will eventually discuss whether any environmental clean-up is warranted at the site, Air Force Lt. Col. Wayne Perry, USFK deputy public affairs officer confirmed.
“That hasn’t begun … so we’re not near that point in time, of discussion,” said Perry. “We’re just beginning to do our assessment of the physical plant.”
Perry said he did not know when the two sides would hold those environmental discussions.