There were claims of a cover-up, denials and an international media firestorm. But now recent reports confirm what one Valley veteran has said all along. Toxic chemicals were buried on a U. S. military base in South Korea.
"This ain't right," said Valley veteran Steve house. "I'm sorry. This just ain't right."
House is referring to the chemical investigation reports that were released to CBS 5 Investigates, following our public records request. They show without a doubt that the military did store and later bury toxic chemicals at camp Carroll.
"Look at this," House said referring to the report. "This is just the beginning."
The military has been under pressure to release these reports since our initial investigation when three American soldiers spoke out about burying Agent Orange on the base in 1978. The reports sparked an international media frenzy. The U.S. military and the Korean Government started investigating. And they started testing the water and soil.
One report from July 2004 conducted by Sony, shows that more than 100 chemicals were stored and buried on the base from 1977 to 1982. House told CBS 5 that he buried drums of Agent Orange when he was station at Camp Carroll in 1978.
"You could see where they buried the other stuff," House said. I could see the blemished ground. If you walked over there it would take your breath away."
The reports released by the U. S. Forces Korea show the extent of the military's chemical cover-up. A 2004 report focuses on two area of the base. Area 41 was a hazardous storage area, where numerous chemical spills were reported between 1976 and 1981. And Area D was identified in the report as a hazardous waste landfill. According to the report more than a 100 hazardous chemicals were buried there over a five-year period.
"They had us wear gas masks and safety gear when we were digging the ditch," House said. "And I didn't understand back then why they did it."
But House says the reports explain it.
"They were afraid that we were going to get into something that was already there sand they didn't want to have to explain 20 or 30 dead GIs," he said.
Land surveys conducted in 2004 showed "widespread contamination of the aquifer throughout the base." And that it would cost $93.8 million to remove the contaminated soil.
But the military knew about the contamination and risk to U.S. soldiers sand the Korean people as far back as 1992, according to the report. There are also mentions of Agent Orange being stored on the base. But the military now says those records have been misplaced.
"I want to know who gave the order, " said House. "Who said six good American boys were expendable to hide their secret, to hide their dirty little chemical mess they made? No this isn't over. This isn't close to being over."
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