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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 2 - 8  > Leak of hazardous firefighting foams might have caused water-pollution near Futenma base: expert
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2020 September 2 - 8 [US FORCES]

Leak of hazardous firefighting foams might have caused water-pollution near Futenma base: expert

September 6 & 7, 2020

Akahata reported on September 7 that high levels of PFOS and PFOA were found in drainage channels at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa after an accident in which toxic firefighting foams were flown off the base in April.

This was shown in the results of an on-site investigation of the accident which the governments of Japan, Okinawa Prefecture, and the Futenma base-hosting city of Ginowan jointly conducted in April and May.

According to the investigation results, the levels of PFOS and PFOA in soil samples collected from three different points around the drainage channels on the base reached 38,200 ng/kg at maximum. A high concentration of these toxic materials was also detected in water samples collected from the same points as soil samples and the concentration level exceeded the Japanese government-set safety threshold.

Kyoto University Professor Emeritus Koizumi Akio, who specializes in water pollution near U.S. bases in Okinawa, pointed out the possibility that local residents may be exposed to chemical-contaminated water emitted from the Futenma base through drinking water and marine products. He also warned that contaminated soil at the Futenma base will have negative impact on farmland near the base.


The U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa on September 4 released an investigation report which states that the April toxic foam leak accident at the Futenma base was triggered by an outdoor barbecue party. In response to the report, Japan’s Defense Ministry expressed its intention to urge the U.S. military to implement thoroughgoing measures to prevent a recurrence.

The USMC report stated that the BBQ party activated a fire extinguishing device and caused more than 156,000 litters of toxic anti-fire foams to be released. The reason why a massive amount of hazardous foam spread outside the base was that no one at the accident site, including the first reaction team, knew how to turn off the device.

The USMC said that they will train its personnel to deal with fire-fighting devices and tighten rules regarding the use of fire.

Past related articles:
> Okinawa prefectural assembly adopts statement protesting against leakage of toxic fire foam from US base [April 17, 2020]
> Okinawa demands on-site probe over leakage of PFOS-containing fire foams from US Futenma base [April 14 & 15, 2020]
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