S. Korea probes reported US Agent Orange burial

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South Korea said on Friday it had launched an inspection of a site where US troops allegedly buried leftover Agent Orange, a highly toxic defoliant widely used during the Vietnam War.

The environment ministry said it had sent a team of officials and experts to the site at Waegwan, 216km south-east of Seoul. The investigation followed a report by a US TV station that the substance was buried at Camp Carroll, a US army logistics base at Waegwan, in 1978.

Investigators would check soil and underground water around the camp, the ministry said in a statement, adding it had also urged the United States to verify the report.

Citing three veterans who were once stationed at Waegwan, KPHO CBS 5 News, based in the Arizona city of Phoenix, reported last week that an unspecified amount of Agent Orange was dumped in Waegwan.

One veteran insisted that there were about 250 drums of the defoliant in storage at that time. Steve House, one of the three interviewed, said he received orders to dig a ditch nearly the length of a city block. "˜They just told us it was going to be used for disposal,' he was quoted as saying.

A US military spokesman in Seoul confirmed that US troops have been asked to substantiate allegations by the veterans. "˜There was a request from the South Korean side to cooperate' in its investigation, he told AFP.

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