Here is the latest update on the Yongsan Garrison oil contamination issue:
Land being used by the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan will be returned to Korea by the end of the year and turned into a public park. Many cases of oil contamination on the base have been exposed since the early 2000s./Yonhap
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is organizing a forum on oil contamination in the soil of U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Yongsan in central Seoul, Thursday, in an effort to pressure the U.S. to clean the site before its relocation is completed.
The city said the forum has enormous backing from citizens.
“We’re organizing this knowing there’s support coming from the public,” a city official said.
In May, the city conducted a survey of 3,040 Seoul residents, and 65 percent responded that the U.S. military should be held responsible for cleaning up any oil contamination and must do it before the land is returned ― the United States Forces Korea(USFK) headquarters and Eighth Army headquarters are currently relocating to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, which is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
The city’s move comes after a court ordered the Ministry of Environment to reveal the results of two inspections of the U.S. military base ― it conducted three inspections but only released the results of the first one to the public.
The forum is also intended to pressure the central government ― the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ― to put pressure on the USFK to share data on past contamination records and to clean the site. “To solve this problem, action from the central government is critical,” the official said.
One motivation for the city is money. So far, the local government has paid 7 billion won for cleanup operations outside the base’s perimeter. After the U.S. military moves out, the city will turn the area into a public park. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation estimates the onsite cleanup would cost 103 billion won. Environmental groups’ estimates are more than 1 trillion won.
Green Korea, an NGO advocating for a cleanup paid for by the U.S., welcomed Seoul’s move.
“It’s time for Seoul to act when the central government isn’t doing anything,” said Yoon Sangg-hoon, an activist from Green Korea. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but Green Korea has been pushing this issue since former President Park’s ouster. Green Korea has long been an anti-US organization using the environment as justification for their activities. In regards to the Yongsan oil leaks it has never been proven that the oil is coming from Yongsan Garrison. Additionally of the 90+ leaks reported only 7 were major. It seems Green Korea is inflating the leak number just like in the past the USFK crime rate in Korea was inflated by activist groups by including parking tickets.
Using environmental groups to attack USFK is something that has long been used by the Korean left. The most outrageous example has to be the ridiculous 2000 Yongsan Water Dumping Incident. These environmental groups have primarily focused on stopping the relocation of US bases from the 2nd Infantry Division area and Seoul. Of interest is that the 2006 Il Shim Hue spy scandal uncovered that North Korean operatives were infiltrating the ROK environmental movement to inspire more anti-US sentiment.