Diesel fuel leaks out of underground tank in Kadena Ammunition Depot

March 23, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 21, in the Kadena Ammunition Depot, 113 liters of diesel fuel leaked out of an underground fuel tank that is not currently being used. On March 22, through Okinawa Defense Bureau, Kadena Airbase officials informed the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) and the municipalities around the base of the accident. According to the Enterprise Bureau, which functions as the Water Supply organization of the OPG, the fuel did not leak into the Hija River. Local residents are concerned about the effectiveness of measures to prevent a recurrence of fuel leaks and the impact on the farmland because the same type of fuel leak also occurred last August.

The fuel leak occurred about 200 meters from the gate of kudoku Farmers, in Kadena Town. This is arable land used by locals but belonging to the U.S. military. A spokesperson of Kadena Airbase commented to the Ryukyu Shimpo that the military will dig up the soil polluted by the fuel and will consider removing the underground fuel tank itself. The military authorities state that there will be no risk to residents, because the range that the fuel soaked is limited and away from the boundaries between the base and the local areas. They found no effect on the wells located in the base.

Upon receiving the news from the base of a fuel leak, the Kadena Municipal Office requested that the base conduct an on-site inspection through the Defense Agency. Currently, the Defense Agency is negotiating with the U.S. military authorities to permit entry for Municipal Office staff. Hiroshi Toyama the mayor of Kadena said, “This is very regrettable. What is the U.S. military doing to prevent the recurrence of fuel leaks? We need to inspect the fuel tank in the ammunition depot. We are concerned about the impact on farmland and on the Hija River, and about the possibility of fire.”

Toshio Shimabukuro, the head of Higashi neighborhood community association of Kadena said, “Farmers are worried about accidents. Base officials should move quicker to contact residents about these things, and they should take effective measures to prevent recurrence of such accidents.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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