An appellate court on Wednesday ruled that the government should disclose details of two additional surveys on water contamination near the US military base in Yongsan.
The Seoul High Court upheld the lower court's ruling that ordered the Ministry of Environment to make the records available to the Lawyers' for a Democratic Society, more commonly known as Minbyun, which filed a suit against the government calling for the disclosure.
Minbyun already won a prior suit against the ministry at the top court for the disclosure of the first environmental survey jointly conducted by South Korea and US forces on water pollution levels near the US base in central Seoul.
|The entrance to the Yongsan Garrison. (Yonhap)|
The lawyer's group went on to file another suit seeking to make the two subsequent studies public record, citing citizens' right to know. The ministry refused to reveal the results saying they are confidential documents as mandated by the Status of Forces Agreement between South Korea and the US
The lower court agreed with the plaintiff's claim and said the government should disclose the two other surveys as well.
Concerns have grown over possible chemical contamination of soil and water worsening in and near the US military base. The Seoul city government has spent 7 billion won ($6.3 million) on its own environmental survey near the surrounding areas, which found high levels of harmful chemicals in the soil and water.
Based on SOFA, South Korea is forbidden from accessing the inside of the US base for an environmental test. (Yonhap)