Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Contamination: The human cost of dioxin, PCBs and pollution at Kadena Air Base

Last week, The Japan Times on Sunday reported about asbestos, lead and the impact of pollution on local water supplies. We also explored the shortcomings of current environmental regulations.
This week, we investigate how past disposal of hazardous waste, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin, continues to threaten the health of American and Japanese residents, as well as the economic future of Okinawa.
Kadena Air Base has been in operation for more than 70 years but its current custodians know very little of its history — particularly when it comes to the disposal of hazardous substances.
Documents dating from the 1990s to 2015 repeatedly record service members stumbling upon pollution caused, but not reported, by their predecessors. Underground discoveries include petroleum/oil/lubricant contamination, white phosphorous and abandoned storage tanks, one of which leaked approximately 450 liters of diesel, endangering nearby farmland in March 2012.
The struggle to control past contamination is highlighted by the base’s ongoing troubles with PCBs.

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