Specific levels of 25 toxic substances withheld at information sessionon
February 1, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
Recently, dioxins were detected in the soil at levels exceeding environmental standards in a residential area of the Kamisedo district of Chatan Town. On January 31, at the town chamber of commerce building in Kamisedo, the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) held an information session for landowners in the area. ODB representatives shared with the landowners the content of an interim report based on their investigation into the matter. Around 40 participants attended the information session. Some of the participants requested that health surveys and drilling surveys in other locations be conducted.
The ODB explained that dioxins were detected at levels of 1,800 picograms, which is 1.8 times the level accepted by environmental standards. Regarding others of the 25 other substances that are defined as specified toxic substances under the Soil Contamination Countermeasures Law, the ODB declined to provide information about the specific levels of each substance, merely assuring residents that they fell within the accepted standards.
The ODB declared that it will take the following two measures: (1) Investigate the presence of dioxins in only the top layer of soil (up to a depth of 5 centimeters) in the surrounding area, and (2) Gather information through a survey of relevant documents and interviews, performing additional investigations only if proven necessary. After the information session ended, the ODB provided this information to town council members and reporters.
The representative of the ODB claimed that “at present, there is no risk that dispersion of contaminants will lead to the spread of contamination or pose a threat to human health” and that “there is no immediate health risk unless the soil is dug up.” However, upon further questioning, the ODB stated that these claims are no more than speculation.
Representatives presenting at the information session included ODB assistant administrative director Kazukuni Tamae, Chatan Town chief of general affairs Osamu Tamanaha, and Ryo Matsuda, head of the Okinawa prefectural government’s Special Management Office of Military Installation Environmental Affairs, part of the Environmental Policy Division.
(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)
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