U.S. military brings radioactive waste into MCAS Futenma

U.S. military brings radioactive waste into MCAS Futenma

Low-level radioactive waste has been stored at the United States Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Ginowan City, 11:00pm, August 10.

August 11, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

The U.S. military has transported radioactive waste and stored it in the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The waste is pollutants discharged during the decontamination work of “Operation Tomodachi” carried out by U.S. Forces as relief assistance for Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant accident. An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported this to Okinawa Prefectural Government and to Ginowan City, on August 10.

According to Ginowan City Hall, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs described it as low-level radioactive waste, and stated, “It is clothes and other things used in the decontamination work. They are stored in an airtight container.” The amount of such waste and the location where it is stored has not been divulged. With regard to the disposal of the waste, the official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Those matters are still being considered” and regarding measures for its disposal, said, “We want to get data from the U.S. and then will provide detailed information.” It would seem that there was information on the radioactive waste storage in Futenma provided by the U.S. military to the Ministry in late June.

Shigeo Yamauchi, head of the Department for Military Base Affairs of Ginowan City, said, “It is a major issue that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not contact to us immediately when they received information about this nearly two months ago. We have not yet been given any details. We would like to get the relevant information and discuss what measures should be taken.”

A spokesperson for the Marines Corps in Okinawa told The Ryukyu Shimpo last month that eight CH-46 medium transport helicopters based at the Futenma Air Station had participated in the relief operation on mainland Japan for the Great East Japan Earthquake over a one-month period. After completing their mission, the helicopters were checked for radioactivity and were decontaminated at Atsugi Air Base. According to the spokesperson, the level of radiation had increased in the engines and other internal parts of six of the eight helicopters that returned to Futenma.

With regard to the decontamination, “It has been handled according to the requirements of the U.S. and Japanese governments,” and “the radiation is below the level set by the Pentagon,” the spokesperson explained.

Low-level radioactive waste has been also stored at U.S. Naval Base in Sasebo, in Nagasaki Prefecture, and U.S. Base and Maritime Self-Defense Force Yokosuka, in Kanagawa Prefecture.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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