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SEOUL — U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Walter Sharp said the military is expanding its investigation into the possibility that Agent Orange was buried at Camp Carroll in the late 1970s, although an ongoing review of military records does not indicate that the toxic chemical was moved or stored there.

Sharp, in a news release issued late Friday night, said USFK is “aggressively investigating” claims made by three veterans who say they helped bury Agent Orange at the small base, about 20 miles from Daegu.

“Both Americans and Koreans live and work in and around Camp Carroll, and I share the concerns of the government of the Republic of Korea and the Korean people living near the installation,” his statement said. “If any substances of concern are found, we will dispose of them properly.”

The three former soldiers told Phoenix television station KPHO CBS 5 in a May 13 report that they now suffer health problems resulting from their exposure to Agent Orange, a blend of herbicides used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to certain cancers and other diseases, and disposal of dioxin-contaminated materials in landfills can affect groundwater reservoirs and aquifers, according to the Vietnam Veterans of America website.

South Korea’s Environment Ministry has requested that USFK verify the men’s claims, and sent analysts Friday to survey the area around the base. In his statement, Sharp said 8th Army commander general Lt. Gen. John Johnson is overseeing the investigation and coordinating closely with South Korea’s defense and environment ministries. He said the investigation would be transparent, and all findings would be shared with South Korean officials.

“This inquiry is collecting all available facts, including contacting the men who made the claims, reviewing historical data with environmental and logistical experts and examining the sites that are identified,” he said. USFK is also reviewing water samples collected over the past 10 years and is collecting new samples, the news release said.

About 3,850 people work at Camp Carroll, and 900 troops live there.

rowlanda@pstripes.osd.mil

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