By Walter T. Ham IV, Eighth Army Public Affairs May 26, 2011
SEOUL -- The American Army general leading the investigation into claims that U.S. troops buried Agent Orange on Camp Carroll in 1978 addressed the Korean public on the progress of the probe during a May 26 MBC Radio interview here.
Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, who is heading the Camp Carroll Task Force, said the joint assessment is being conducted together with Republic of Korea government officials.
“We’ve been working very closely with the Korean government since we had the initial claims through the media,” said Johnson.
Johnson said Eighth Army officials were in the United States talking with the veterans who claimed to bury Agent Orange to pinpoint the location on Camp Carroll where they claim to have buried the herbicide.
“As early as next week, we’ll have ground penetrating radar that we can put over the location that will be able to see barrels or anything else that was buried there,” said Johnson, “and we’re meeting with Korean officials today to determine what testing should be done if we find something there.”
The ROK-U.S. SOFA Environmental Subcommittee met for the first time to discuss the joint assessment May 26 on Yongsan Garrison here. The initial meeting is to determine the scope for the joint assessment survey, the monitoring of the site and how assessment information will be shared.
During his drive time interview, Johnson corrected the record on previous reports about the amount of dioxin discovered on the post in a routine test in 2004.
“Dioxin can come from burning tires, burning plastics and it’s included in some kinds of herbicides,” said Johnson. “The report that was originally reported, 1.7 per billion, was misread. It was actually 1.7 per trillion, in other words much, much less.”
The amount discovered poses no risk to human health.
Johnson reaffirmed the Camp Carroll Task Force’s commitment to thoroughly investigate the more than 30-year-old claims and to take the necessary steps to remedy any health or environmental risks if they are discovered in the process.
“If we get at evidence that there is a risk to health, we are going to fix it,” said Johnson. “My immediate focus is on making sure there is not a risk to their health and we can continue the safeguard the health of our Soldiers, our Korean workforce and the Koreans who live as our neighbors in the area.”