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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 February 21 - 27  > US military jet dumps fuel tanks into lake in Aomori
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2018 February 21 - 27 [US FORCES]

US military jet dumps fuel tanks into lake in Aomori

February 21, 2018
Akahata has learned that a U.S. F16 fighter jet on February 20 dumped two fuel tanks into a lake in Aomori Prefecture just after taking off from a U.S. base nearby.

Japan’s Defense Ministry announced on the day that the aircraft in question is stationed at the U.S. Misawa Air Base. Around at 8:40 am on February 20, immediately after leaving the base, the jet’s engine caught fire. The ministry thinks that the F16 jettisoned the two fuel tanks into Lake Ogawara, north of the base, in order to prevent a fire upon landing.

The tanks landed 200 meters away from where a fishing boat was operating on the lake. At that time, fishermen on some ten other boats were netting corbicula clams. One of them said that suddenly something fell from the sky with a loud sound and he saw a column of water erupt from the surface. The fisherman added that he went closer and found a 10-meter wide hole on the icy surface of the water with the strong smell of oil hanging in the air.

In response to the accident, the cooperative of fishermen at Lake Ogawara decided to discard that day’s catch of clams altogether. The cooperative also decided to suspend the harvest of the shellfish until the U.S. military completes on-site investigations and parts-recovery work.

Hamada Masataka, who heads the fishery cooperative with a membership of 400, said that it was fortunate that no one was harmed. Currently, 250 of the 400 engage in the corbicula clam fishing. He said, “At this time of the year, corbicula clams sell at a good price. If cooperative members are prevented from going fishing because of the accident, their children’s future prospects could become dim. The U.S. military should compensate affected fishermen.”

About 30 km north of the Misawa base is the Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant for recycling spent nuclear fuel.

Following the accident, Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Takahashi Chizuko at a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting demanded a thorough investigation into the matter. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in reply said that the government requested the U.S. military to take measures to prevent a recurrence.

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