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Old discarded home appliances create trash problem

Date Posted: 2003-02-08

An ordnance requiring citizens to pay to discard old appliances is causing an increasing number of people to dump their appliances illegally, in the middle of the night. Okinawa Prefecture officials, who enacted an ordnance charging for disposing of old home appliances, say more and more people have opted to throw out their old refrigerators, TVís and other appliances in violation of the law.

With the cost of trashing appliances ranging from •3,000 per appliance and up, people are carrying their trash to quiet roadsides, and leaving them there instead of taking them to the city office or a retail outlet for proper disposal.

Recognizing the trend, Okinawa Prefectural Police together with the 11th Maritime Safety Agency and officials from eight other prefectural departments, conducted a special surveillance patrol along Okinawaís coastline on Jan. 31. The surveillance groups patrolled the coasts using ships and helicopters, looking for people discarding trash into the ocean at ports and beaches.

The patrol boats started their surveillance trip from Naha Port, heading north up the coast to Urasoe, and to Nakagusuku Bay on the west coast. The areas were chosen by officials at the 11th Maritime Safety Agency based on their observations of illegal dumping in those areas. ďPeople donít perhaps realize that itís not only that trash piles up in harbors and beaches but that a lot of this trash poses a pollution hazard. Many home appliances contain highly hazardous materials such as mercury and other pollutants, and thus itís important that people donít throw their unwanted appliances into the ocean,Ē a MSA officer taking part in the patrol said.

The largest chunk of trash the patrols found is the wrecked a cargo ship that ran aground on the reef off Camp Kinser 16 years ago. Although the Taiwanese-owned ship wreckage has been in plain sight for all these years, no one seems to be able to figure out what to do about it, although every official agrees that the wreck should be removed. The only question now is at whose expense.

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