Toxic dioxin found inside barrels unearthed at a soccer ground on land returned by the U.S. military in Okinawa City

October 27, 2014 Kyoko Ishii of Ryukyu Shimpo

Out of 61 barrels unearthed at a soccer ground on land returned by the U.S. military in Okinawa City, 18 of them contained fouling material with a concentration of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD) at 50 percent. This level of toxicity in TCDD is considered the most dangerous dioxin for human health out of the eight chemical defoliants used by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War. The dioxin, which contains a carcinogen, is part of other powerful defoliants used in the herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War such as Agent Pink and Green. These defoliants are more toxic than Agent Orange.

Hideaki Miyata, emeritus professor at Setsunan University who is regarded as a leading expert in dioxins, analyzed the results taken from the fouling material inside the barrels unearthed from Okinawa City as part of a research project carried out by the Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa. The research has scientifically proven the negative fallout of the Vietnam War remains in Okinawa.

TCDD was formed unintentionally as a side product in creating 2, 4, 5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2, 4, 5-T), a chlorophenoxy acetic acid herbicide. The dioxin was detected because the barrels were contaminated with 2, 4, 5-T. The decomposing materials of the herbicide and 2, 4, 5-T were detected in high concentration, in the fouling material of all the 18 barrels. 2, 4, 5-T was used to create Agent Pink and Green.

Miyata’s analysis ruled out the existence of six defoliants including Agent Orange. The Okinawa Defense Bureau claimed there was no evidence of defoliants. Miyata stressed, “Dioxins in soil will stay for a long time. The removal measure should be taken once the contamination has been confirmed.”

The U.S. and Japanese governments have denied the U.S. military brought defoliants to Okinawa. However, U.S. veterans testified that the chemical was stored, sprayed and dumped in Okinawa. The Okinawa Defense Bureau detected dioxin at a level 8.4 times the Environmental Quality Standard set by the Japanese government and other harmful ingredients inside the barrels found at the soccer ground.

Glossary: Agent Orange
The U.S. military used Agent Orange or Herbicide Orange (HO), a herbicide and defoliant, as part of its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. The U.S.military dispersed Agent Orange and other defoliant formulations to destroy crops, bushes, trees, and vegetation in order to expose the Viet Cong, which used the cover of the jungle and farms for guerrilla warfare. The military also dispersed the defoliants to farming villages. The defoliant was given its name from the color of the orange-striped barrels in which it was shipped. As well as Agent Orange, which was used in the largest quantity, the U.S. military used powerful
herbicide-defoliants such as Agents Pink, Green, White, and Blue in its herbicidal warfare program. The toxicity of the dioxins brought serious health problems to the local people.

(English translation by T&CT)

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