September 23, 2013
Highly toxic PCB waste from former U.S. military facilities in Okinawa will be disposed of in the 3.11 disaster-hit prefecture of Fukushima, Akahata reported on September 23. Citizens are raising voices of protest against the plan.
On behalf of the U.S. Forces Japan, the Japanese government has awarded a private company in Fukushima a contract for the disposal of 322 tons of PCB contaminated sludge from sewage treatment plants at former U.S. military facilities in Okinawa. The contract is valued at 395 million yen.
“It is unacceptable for the national government to allow the highly toxic material disposed in Fukushima without obtaining local consent while the prefecture is still suffering from radioactive contamination due to the nuclear accident two years ago,” a local citizen said.
The manufacture and use of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) have been banned since 1972. Disposing of PCB has been extremely difficult due to technological constraints.
An environmental expert commenting on the issue said that the government should “be careful” in disposing the highly toxic material in the area where the aftershocks of the 2011 earthquake continue.
Some argue that the U.S. should be held responsible for contamination caused by its military bases. However, as Washington claims that it has no obligation to restore the environment of its military sites to their original condition, Tokyo is disposing the PCB wastes at its own expense.
As mentioned above, the disposal of the U.S. military PCB waste is provoking much controversy. The national government should listen to the opinions of the public in both the national and local assemblies, Akahata pointed out.