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Ishigaki scrambles to isolate tar balls

Date Posted: 2011-04-07

Two lines of waste oil balls, each line about a meter wide, headed toward the seashore and beaches in Ishigaki, sending the Coast Guard, environmental officials and citizens into action.

The two 100-meter-long strings of waste oil balls were first spotted by a resident in the Kawahira district of Ishigaki City, triggering the Ishigaki Coast Guard Office and Masachika Tsuji, head of the Tsuju Environmental Culture Lab to the scene. Tsuji’s concern was that “The waste oil balls were almost softened because of heat, causing a possibility that it would soak into the sands on the beach if we could not collect the oil rapidly. Should that have happened the marine pollution would have been severe because the oil would have been taken back into the ocean by waves because of tide level was high.”

An emergency clean up activity was instituted, with a local Kawahira district diving club mobilizing its members to collect the waste oil balls and remove them from the waters before they fouled the shoreline. Tsuji’s Environmental Culture Lab provided the technical expertise to volunteers as they removed the jellied oil drifting toward the shoreline.

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