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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 15 - 21  > Okinawa demands on-site probe over leakage of PFOS-containing fire foams from US Futenma base
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2020 April 15 - 21 [US FORCES]

Okinawa demands on-site probe over leakage of PFOS-containing fire foams from US Futenma base

April 14 & 15, 2020
Okinawa Vice Governor Jahana Kiichiro on April 14 lodged with the Defense Ministry’s local bureau head and the Foreign Ministry ambassador in charge of Okinawa affairs a protest against a massive leak of firefighting foams containing the cancer-causing chemicals PFOS from the U.S. Futenma base. He also made a request for an early access to the base to conduct on-site investigations of the leak.

The incident took place four days earlier in Ginowan City which hosts the U.S. Futenma base. Gallons of fluorinated fire foams discharged from the base flowed into a river in the city and was dispersed airborne in the city, including into residential areas. The U.S. military, however, took no action while local firefighters struggled to clean up the toxic foam.

Jahana criticized the U.S. forces for not working to contain the accident. He demanded that the Japanese and U.S. governments remove all the leaked foam from the affected areas and carry out environmental investigations at the site where the discharge took place and in areas where the foam was dispersed.

The Okinawa government also demanded a thorough probe into the cause of the incident and a disclosure of the findings; an immediate shift from fluorinated foams to fluorine-free ones; and thorough and effective measures to prevent a recurrence.

Defense Ministry Okinawa bureau chief Tanaka Toshinori only said that the Japanese government will closely work with the U.S. authorities to deal with the matter.

On the previous day, in protest against the leakage incident, the Japanese Communist Party Okinawa Prefectural Assemblymembers’ group submitted to the Okinawa Defense Bureau a written demand addressed to Defense Minister Kono Taro which includes a request for a revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.

Other demands the JCP made call for a thorough investigation and the publication of the cause of the incident, the removal of the discharged foam, and health checkups of local people, including firefighters engaged in the clean-up activities. In addition, the JCP demanded that the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty be replaced with a peace and friendship treaty with the U.S. based on equal footing.

A Defense Bureau official said that the bureau will protest against the incident and make a request for an on-site investigation while showing a negative stance toward the JCP demand for a revision of the SOFA.

At the Futenma Air Base, a similar leakage accident occurred in December 2019.

Past related articles:
> Water around US bases in Okinawa contaminated with PFOS/PFOA [ May 30, 2019]
> US Kadena AB leaked harmful materials 13 times over 6 years [April 25, 2016]
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