June 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. military in South Korea met with local officials to discuss a potential site inspection of Pier 8, the headquarters for Joint United States Forces Korea Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition, or JUPITR, after local residents raised concerns regarding biological agents.
The Nam District in south central Busan, South Korea's second-largest city, said Monday head of Nam District Park Jae-beom met with Robert P. Mann, Jr., commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Daegu, News 1 reported.
The two sides discussed the JUPITR project, and Park requested U.S. military approval of a field inspection team's visit to Pier 8 to allay local concerns, according to the report.
"During my meeting with Cmdr. Mann I requested cooperation for a visit from local residents, experts, lawmakers and civic group leaders to Pier 8," Park said after the meeting.
"Cmdr. Mann said he would meet with the commander of U.S. Forces Korea and raise the issue of the visit."
Civic protesters have been gathering at Pier 8 military storage center and blocking the entrance in the mornings, the Korea Herald reported.
They have also held candlelight vigils in the evenings, while bearing signs that read, "Nam district residents are not test subjects for viruses" and "Abolish the biological weapons test lab."
Park said he requested a one-man visit if a group inspection is not allowed. He added his meeting with Mann signaled "progress."
JUPITR's objective is to shape biological detection capabilities at a time when North Korea is suspected of developing biological weapons. The regime publicized the works of the Pyongyang Biological Technology Research Institute in 2015, run by the Korean People's Army Unit 810.
The U.S. military may have said they do not run live biological agent tests at the site in Busan. South Korean civic groups are asking for evidence.
Concerns spiked in South Korea after Seoul's defense ministry confirmed the U.S. military imported samples of anthrax 15 times since 2009, and a shipment in 2015 exposed as many as 22 people.