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Ie Island residents demanding military pave airfield runway

Date Posted: 2008-04-18

Touch and go landings are common at Ie Island Auxiliary Airport, a training area for the US military.

Ie Island residents understand the need for training, but are angry that it’s costing them money, time and aggravation. Each time a plane takes off or lands, clouds of dust is stirred and scattered, settling on crops and laundry. Residents are mad, and worry they could be exposed to health problems.

They are demanding the U.S. military pave the runway with asphalt, a move they say would make the training activities tolerable. The current dirt and coral runway is sprayed with water, then tamped with rollers, but it isn’t enough. “If the Americans want to do touch and go training,” one farmer said, “we ask them to put asphalt on the runway.”

Farmers say their pleas are falling on deaf ears by both the U.S. and Japanese governments. Talking about how the dust is destroying their crops, farmers say “buyers demand very high quality, and the inspections are very strict. With dust on the leaves, nobody wants to buy.” Anothre says “we’ve been asking the military somehow to take care of this dust problem, but there has been no response.”

They say dust soils the laundry and fouls drinking water in tanks. The worst they recall was last year, when a departing plane stirred a big cloud that blanketed homes, farm yards and flowers, damaging the tobacco and chrysanthemum crops.

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