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Old fuel tank leaking on Kadena Air Base

Date Posted: 2012-03-30

The Okinawa Times newspaper first broke the story, and Kadena Town’s mayor is irate and demanding action as to how a decades-old fuel tank on Kadena Air Base could have fuel in it, and be leaking.

The fuel tank is located in the ammunition storage area on Kadena Air Base, where it is believed to have been the tank for a boiler. Speculation is that the fuel tank has been on the base, unused, since the 1970’s. The Okinawa Times uncovered the information about the leak and tank, and the Kadena Air Base Public Affairs Office has answered a query from the daily Okinawa newspaper. Some familiar with the information say it’s possible there’s been fuel in the tank for more than 40 years.

Hiroshi Toyama, Kadena Town’s mayor, isn’t pleased about the finding, and is contemplating filing a lawsuit. “We hope to prompt a general inspection of the area,” he says, “and are demanding a consistent prevention of relapse.” Kadena Air Base has responded by allowing both Kadena Town and Okinawa Prefecture officials to visit the area where the tank is located, but denied them the right to collect samples.

Kadena’s Vice Mayor, Yoshiro Kamiyama, says “rainwater entered the tank from a valve that was underground, so the fuel flowed over, into the soil. The Air Force has already begun cleanup work of the polluted soil, and visitors say there’s still the smell of fuel in the area.

Kadena Air Base has announced it is starting an investigation of other tanks. Kadena’s Town Assembly is holding a complaint resolution meeting today.

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