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Journalist claims U.S. military downplayed impact of PFAS contamination in response to query from U.S. lawmaker

  • December 6, 2021
  • , Okinawa Times
  • JMH Summary

Okinawa Times led with a report by British journalist Jon Mitchell in which he claims that he has learned from documents the paper obtained through a FOIA request that in response to a query from Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, about PFAS contamination in Okinawa in 2018, the U.S. military provided inaccurate information by downplaying the impact of the contamination. According to the paper, the office of Senator Shaheen asked the Department of Defense in the fall of 2018 whether the U.S. military had identified PFAS contamination in Okinawa, what the department was doing to mitigate and remediate any contamination, and what efforts the department had made to work with the local governments to protect individuals from contamination in the surrounding communities. Mitchell claims that the U.S. military responded on Oct. 18, 2018, that although a fire extinguishing training facility at the Futenma Air Station was contaminated, less than 5 nanograms per liter of PFOS and PFOA was detected in rainwater discharged from the base. The journalist says that although 5 nanograms is much lower than the permissible level of 50 nanograms provisionally set by the Japanese government, the report was misleading because samples of the water were collected at a location 1.5 km from the training facility and the two locations were not connected. The paper wrote that U.S. Forces Japan have not yet responded to its query asking whether they later provided accurate information.

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