Seoul seeking $1M for kerosene cleanup
December 14, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Seoul city officials want more than $1 million in reimbursement from U.S. Forces Korea for cleanup of a kerosene leak they allege came from the base and polluted a subway tunnel.
USFK and Seoul city don’t agree on the source of kerosene in the Noksapyong subway tunnel, which runs underground near the base, according to a USFK news release. USFK said analysis didn’t prove the kerosene came from the base, while Seoul city maintained Friday it did.
“While the source was not conclusively identified, it (kerosene) might have come from Yongsan Garrison based on the ground water flow characteristics in the south tunnel area,” USFK wrote.
Up to 2½ gallons of fuel was leaking daily near subway tracks in the Noksapyong tunnel when the problem was discovered in January 2001. The city said the fuel did not pose a fire hazard, and USFK said the fuel stopped leaking into the subway tunnel in October 2002.
The fuel was a mixture of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent kerosene. Using precise measurements, the city found the kerosene resembled JP8, the fuel used by the U.S. military, Chon Jin-young, who works in the water quality division of Seoul city’s environment bureau, said Friday.
“We have enough reason to claim the money from the United States,” Chon said.
USFK said experts found the analysis was inconclusive.
Both sides agree the gasoline mixed with kerosene originated from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service gas station on south post.
U.S. and South Korean engineers and scientists performed extensive joint tests of soil and water along with taking measurements from 60 wells drilled in the area, USFK wrote. They found that gasoline was seeping through fissures in the hard rock, guided by ground water that moves in the direction of Noksapyong station.
The source was a leaky tank that was replaced, officials said in June 2002. USFK spent $700,000 drilling wells and installing pumps that drew out more than 1,700 gallons of gas from the rock, officials said at that time.
The city will file a claim with the base to recover costs of its work, Chon said. The Seoul District Compensation Committee will look at the claim and work with the base on a settlement figure.
The city plans to either use pumps to draw fuel out or add a substance to mitigate the fuel’s effect on the ground water underneath the subway tunnel, Chon said. The water is not used for drinking, but the city is obligated to restore it to a minimum environmental standard, he said.
The city has spent about $600,000 so far on the site and plans to spend about $500,000 next year, Chon said. It has contracted cleanup work to the Korea Agricultural and Rural Infrastructure Corporation, he said.