According to a recent report from the Defense Department Inspector General’s office, U.S. military housing in South Korea has been cited for hundreds of code violations, 11 of which posed serious dangers to residents.
The Oct. 28 report reviewed 12% of the buildings occupied by military families and unaccompanied service members stationed in South Korea’s 13 U.S. military installations. A majority of violations were caused by inadequate upkeep, which the report links to spotty record-keeping and to overworked and ill-managed housing staff.
An alarming 646 deficiencies were found across 277 units. Issues ranged from exposed electrical wiring to oil leaks to missing sprinkler systems. One of the 11 critical deficiencies was found at Yongsan. The U.S. Army Garrison had an out-of-service fire alarm and no other means of fire detection, even though two other buildings on the property had heating oil leaks that could have resulted in a fire.
Electrocution and fire risks were high on the list of severe code violations in other camps as well. Many lacked proper electrical grounding, sprinklers and carbon monoxide alarms. According to the IG report, many of these issues were urgent enough that they were solved immediately.
Inspectors also discovered mold at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys. Mold is a common problem in South Korea, especially during the summer when the weather is humid. Inconsistent upkeep of air and ventilation systems was also partly to blame.
“Long term exposure to mold has been associated with multiple chronic conditions such as fatigue, and even worse if you’re allergic.” says Joe Mulieri, President of Mold Gone.
A similar situation was discovered at a U.S. military base in Japan earlier this month. Mold was one of the most serious problems cited in 1,057 code violations in base housing in Japan, along with high levels of radon. Unfortunately, these problems haven’t been so easy to fix.
Since the discovery of mold and radon in military bases across the globe, the IG has been clashing with John Conger, the acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, over the need to enact stricter regulations to protect servicemen against mold and regulation.
“Based on our inspection, the significant presence of mold and DoD’s current ad hoc approach to radon mitigation places unnecessary risk on the warfighter and their dependents,” The IG stated in a recent memo to top military officials. “The OIG DOD firmly believes that serious health hazards such as these need to be addressed at the DoD level.”
Conger maintained that there were no U.S. federal standards that needed to be met for mold and radon levels.