Chemicals detected in Kadena Air Base water

Chemicals detected in Kadena Air Base water

PFOS Concentration Levels Detected by the Enterprise Bureau/ Hija River /Kadena Town Hall/Kadena Air Base/Chatan Town Hall /(1) Hija River/(2) Dakujaku River/(3) Air base well /(4) Hija River Intake Pumping Station/(5) Chatan Water Purification Plant ※ 2) refers to drainage from the base 3) water no longer collected since December 2011


January 19, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 18, Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) announced that an illegal chemical substance was found in Kadena Air Base water, Dakujaku River and Hija River. Dakujaku River runs through Okinawa City and Hija River runs through towns such as Kadena. OPG relies on Hija River to supply water for seven municipalities, including Naha. The OPG believes that the detected chemical substance most likely came from Kadena Air Base. At the press conference held at the prefectural government, Toshiaki Taira of the OPG announced that they will inspect Kadena Air Base for any usage of the chemical substance.

The chemical substance in question is Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), which is also found in aviation fuel and detergent. In Japan, using and importing the acid has been prohibited since 2010, when repetitive administration of PFOS caused deaths in animal experiments.

In Japan, PFOS concentrations in water are usually around 0.07-24 ng/L in any given natural environment. However, the OPG’s monthly survey of the water source at Chatan Water Purification Plant from February 2014 to November 2015 showed higher levels. In Dakujaku River, where the water drains from the air base, 183-1320 ng/L have been measured. In addition, 41-543 ng/L have been measured at the Hija River Pump Station, which takes in water from Hija River.

Meanwhile, 15-80 ng/L have been detected in purified water from Chatan Water Purification Plant. One of the plants main water sources is the Hija River and its purified water supplies seven municipalities. This concentration level is 300 ng/L lower than Germany’s health-related standard. There is no domestic standard in Japan yet. Taira says, “Although this will not cause any health issues immediately, we still need to take care of this situation. It is highly likely that this chemical is flowing in from Kadena Air Base. If this is the case, we will ask them to stop using it.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Kaya Doi)

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