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SEOUL — South Korean Ministry of Environment officials have not decided whether to appeal the Seoul Administrative Court’s decision Wednesday that the results of environmental contamination research at the U.S. Army’s former Camp Page must be made public.

The Ministry of Environment’s Sung Soo-ho said Thursday that “at this point, we are examining the matter, including if we will appeal … the court’s decision.”

Court officials were unavailable for comment Thursday.

The Chuncheon Peoples’ Solidarity civic group, backed by the environmentalist organization Green Korea United, filed the lawsuit seeking the results earlier this summer, according to local news reports.

“I am happy about the ruling. Camp Page is located in the center of our city,” said Yu Jung-bae, a Chuncheon civic group official. “How to clean up our damaged heartland is very important in our effort to develop our city property.”

A Green Korea spokeswoman told Stars and Stripes on Thursday she hopes the case will set a precedent for the other closed U.S. military bases on the peninsula.

According to the local news reports, the court ruled that because the information is not related to national security, the ministry must tell the public who conducted the testing, what results were discovered and who is paying for cleanup efforts.

In July, U.S. Forces Korea turned over 15 sites to South Korea’s government and said it expected to turn over 59 sites valued at more than $1 billion within four years. The move followed 18 months of disagreements about which nation should pay for pollution removal.

A South Korean government statement issued during the July turnover said its studies found at least 26 sites were polluted beyond its environmental standards.

In February, Green Korea and some media outlets said they acquired leaked Ministry of the Environment data that showed unsafe ground and water contamination levels at several sites. They included camps Page, Garry Owen, Greaves, Stanton, Edwards, Giant, Falling Water and Howze, the Kimpo post terminal, the Freedom Bridge and the Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and North Carolina firing ranges.

If the data is correct, the soil’s lead and petrochemical levels at those sites would far exceed South Korean and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency safety standards.

Army officials repeatedly have asserted that when a previous South Korean government completed the base hand-over agreements, it agreed to take the land at cost “as is,” including all buildings and infrastructure.

The status of forces agreement allows USFK to return the sites without environmental treatment of pollutants beyond those posing “known, imminent, and substantial endangerments to human health.”

Further cleanup efforts beyond what the United States already has done should be handled by the South Korean government as “the price of peace,” Army officials have said.

USFK officials were unable to comment Thursday on the court’s ruling.

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