Some 33 years after they buried up to 250 rusting 55-gallon barrels stamped "Agent Compound Orange" in a South Korean ditch, three American soldiers are pointing US and South Korean authorities to the location of the dumping ground. Their story has set off a media firestorm in South Korea, fueling worries among people near US military base Camp Carroll about groundwater safety, cancer, and land prices. "This is a burden I've carried around for" three decades, says Steve House, 54. "It's bugging the hell out of me. I don't want to take this to my grave."
Agent Orange contains dioxin, which scientists say can cause cancer, deformities, and birth defects. Buried dioxin could leak from containers and enter surrounding groundwater. House blames his exposure for type II diabetes and nerve damage—both of which have been linked to Agent Orange—and other serious health problems that make him too sick to work. "I'm falling apart," House said. "I got microwaved on the inside from what's in the ground" in South Korea. (Read more South Korea stories.)