Town office to carry out an environmental survey in the Hamby area of Chatan regarding the defoliant issue

December 16, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

With regard to the defoliant containing the deadly poison dioxin being a serious threat to the health of residents, Chatan Town Office is carrying out an environmental survey in the Hamby area in an attempt to find evidence of pollution. U.S. military veterans allege that they buried defoliant in Chatan before Okinawa’s reversion to Japan. On December 14, the town assembly unanimously approved budget of one million yen to cover the cost of these surveys. Chatan will be the first municipality to investigate the issue of pollution by defoliant and will decide upon the sites and the method of investigating in consultation with the Okinawa Prefectural Government. The specific locations have not been identified yet, because testimony that the U.S. military buried dozens of drums containing Agent Orange is not sufficient to establish where to survey so further deliberation is needed. The research will be conducted at three points and the work will be commissioned to a research organization.

Chatan has asked the central government to establish the facts regarding testimony that has emerged since August from veterans now living in the United States about the disposal of defoliant during their tour of duty in Okinawa. The government explained that the U.S. government does not have any records indicating that defoliant was brought into Okinawa, and added that it will consider carrying out research on this if new facts come to light.

A Chatan official said, “We still think that the central government should be the ones doing these surveys. But local residents have been concerned about this since the veterans’ made these allegations. We would like to people’s minds at ease,” he added.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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