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Crude oil balls found on Okinawa’s west coast beaches

Date Posted: 2003-01-31

A large number of crude oil balls have drifted to several beaches on the island’s west coast over the past week. The balls, some of the as large as 20 centimeters in diameter, have been found on practically every beach from Naminoue Beach in Naha City to beaches in Nakijin, north of Nago.

Officials from the 11th Maritime Safety Agency, who inspected the beaches over the weekend, said beaches at the resorts along the coast in Onna Village, including Moon Beach, Tiger Beach, Rizzan Sea Park Beach, Renaissance Resort Beach and Manza Beach are affected most heavily.

The agency has also started an investigation to determine the origin of the oil. Agency officials say they suspect that similar oil balls can be found on the beaches of the outer islands, although they haven’t investigated them yet.

The discovery of the balls prompted an immediate response from various environmental organizations, volunteer and community groups, with cleaning teams starting work on Sunday. The groups reportedly collected over 100 kg of oil from beaches in Onna Village, while 45 kg of the balls were collected from Nakijin and 25 kg from Yomitan. Officials urge people to avoid stepping on the oil balls, as it makes cleaning very difficult.

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