Okinawa governor rejects environmental impact assessment report
March 28, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo
On March 27, a representative of the Civil Engineering and Construction Division of the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) submitted a written statement of opinion from Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima to Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) with regard to the land reclamation work described in the environmental impact assessment report (EIA) put together by the ODB as part of the plan to construct an alternative facility for the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago. As Nakaima wrote in the statement submitted to the ODB at the end of February on the planned construction of an airfield for the project, it would not be possible for the environmental protection policy and other measures proposed by the government in the EIA to suffiently conserve the living and natural environment around the area in question. Nakaima has demanded the relocation of Futenma Air Station out of Okinawa, and an early return of the land used by the base. He also pointed out problems in the EIA in 404 cases with 38 items such as the lack of naming of suppliers for about 80 percent of the voluminous soil needed to fill the land. This requires about 17 million cubic meters of soil. Also there is a lack of a clear transportation plan and insufficient studies on the impact on the habitat of the dugong, an endangered marine mammal, and sea-grass beds off Henoko.
In response to the governor’s statement of opinion, the Okinawa Defense Bureau will revise the environmental impact assessment report and resubmit it to the OPG.
In Tokyo on the evening of the same day, Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka stated that the government intends to set up a third-party panel to revise the EIA.
Kiyokatsu Toma, the head of the Civil Engineering and Construction Division, who held a press conference at the Okinawa Prefectural Office, explained, “The report was significantly lacking in terms of environmental protection policy. For example, a soil procurement plan was not included.” Although Toma did not give an immediate response with regard to the governor’s judgment on approval of the land reclamation work, division staff repeatedly asserted that the revisions in the EIA would be crucial in determining whether or not the OPG would approve the land reclamation work.
In his opinion on the EIA, Nakaima urged the central government to specify suppliers of soil to fill the land and to provide a transportation plan. He also pointed out issues related to the degradation of the habitat of the dugong, the reduction of the sea-grass beds and the lack of environmental protection policies. Nakaima went on to state that the loss of water through the building of a work yard (5.1 hectares) for the construction of the base in Henoko is unacceptable and that reclamation work could close up the mouth of the Mija River, which could make it difficult to maintain the ecosystem, and therefore demanded that the central government amend the plan.
Asanori Gima of the division submitted a written statement of opinion to Osamu Ogiya of the bureau in Kadena Town in the afternoon on March 27.
Nakaima submitted his written statement of opinion on the EIA regarding the planned construction of an airfield for the project to the ODB on February 20, pointing out that there are 175 problems in the EIA in 25 areas such as the planned deployment to Futenma of the MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. The central government is expected to submit the revised EIA to the OPG sometime after May. It will be officially announced and inspected within one month of being submitted. The central government is then expected to apply to the OPG for approval of the land reclamation work based on the Public Water Body Reclamation Act.
(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)
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