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GOJ cautious about U.S. military’s plan to discharge treated water from Futenma

  • August 19, 2021
  • , Ryukyu Shimpo
  • JMH Summary

Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that negative opinions are growing within the GOJ toward the U.S. military’s plan to discharge water containing PFAS that has been stored at the Futenma Air Station into a public sewage facility outside the base after treating it. The paper wrote that in addition to opposition from the local community, the lack of standards for releasing such water into a public sewage system are an issue. The paper speculated that the GOJ is concerned that if it approves the plan by the U.S. military, which is a public entity, the move could set a “bad example” for private companies, which have been handling such water as “waste.” The paper wrote that the issue could extend beyond the framework of U.S. bases issues and affect Japan’s environmental policies.

 

The paper wrote that the U.S. military told the press on July 8 that it is hoping to discharge the water from the Futenma base after treating it, saying that the levels of PFOS and PFOA contamination in the water will completely meet Japan’s standard for drinking water of below 50 nanograms per liter. However, the production, import, and use of PFOS and PFOA  are restricted in Japan because they remain intact in the environment for long periods. The paper wrote that even if the level of contamination per liter is lowered through treatment, a large volume of chemicals could accumulate in the environment as a result of the release of so much treated water. The paper quoted a GOJ source as saying that government approval of the discharge by the U.S. military would have a major impact.

 

According to the paper, the Ministry of Environment and the Fire and Disaster Management Agency have instructed private companies to dispose of foam extinguisher containing PFOS and other chemicals based on the Waste Disposal Law, and the SDF and other operators have disposed of such waste based on the instructions. The GOJ source said it will be difficult for the government to accept the U.S. request because in the past PFAS-contaminated water has basically been disposed of as waste. The same official reportedly told the paper that although the U.S. military cites the cost of disposing of the water as waste as the reason for its choice to discharge the water, he hopes the U.S. military will acknowledge its social responsibility.

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