A unilateral choice by the US Marines stationed in Okinawa to dump wastewater contaminated with poisonous acid right into a metropolis sewer prompted a scandal in Japan. Chinese language media in contrast it to Japan’s personal method to water from Fukushima.
The nationwide authorities of Japan provided a uncommon formal apology to the mayor of Ginowan over the actions of US troops stationed within the metropolis. Officers from the Protection Ministry and the Atmosphere Ministry visited Okinawa this week to debate the dumping of wastewater from the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which was finished with out the consent of native and prefecture authorities.
“We think about it extraordinarily regrettable that the water was dumped so all of a sudden,” the pinnacle of the Protection Ministry’s environmental coverage division advised the mayor.
The incident occurred on August 26, with the People reportedly giving lower than an hour’s discover to Japanese officers in Tokyo and Ginowan about their intention to proceed with the dump. Some 64,000 liters of water contaminated with a harmful pollutant known as Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) have been poured into town sewer system. The events have opposing views on whether or not the discharge may very well be dangerous to the setting.
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The US army contacted its Japanese counterpart in regards to the plan to eliminate wastewater from the bottom in early July. It assured that the water was handled to make sure that the PFOS content material in it was nicely beneath what Japanese guidelines enable for ingesting and environmental water.
The catch is that PFOS is among the so-called persistent natural pollution, additionally dubbed “endlessly chemical substances,” which might be notoriously proof against pure degradation and might accumulate in residing organisms over a very long time, inflicting well being issues.
Beneath the Stockholm Conference, a UN treaty geared toward combating such compounds, PFOS is taken into account a restricted chemical. In 2010, Japan banned its manufacturing and presently permits its use in solely a handful of producing processes and for firefighting functions.
The bounds on PFOS presence in water have been adopted in Japan in 2020. American bases in Okinawa have for years been accused of contaminating groundwater round them with numerous harmful compounds, together with PFOS, a few of which got here from unintended discharges of firefighting foam. The newest such incident involving the Futenma base occurred in April that yr.
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Contemplating that the pollutant is poisonous not solely biologically, but additionally politically, Okinawa authorities wished to conduct an environmental influence examine of the US dumping plan. The Marines didn’t await permission and made the discharge a fait accompli.
“I really feel robust outrage that the US army unilaterally dumped the water even whereas they knew that discussions have been continuing between Japan and the US on how one can deal with the contaminated water,” Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki mentioned on the day of the dump at a hastily-gathered information convention.
The People had mentioned they couldn’t wait any longer as a result of water reservoirs, through which the waste was saved, have been nearly full and posed a danger of spillage if there was heavy rain.
Including insult to harm is the rationale that the People reportedly gave to Japanese officers throughout a gathering in July, after they defined why they wanted the dump. The bottom used to rent a private-sector agency to deal with the water, however the associated fee was deemed too excessive a burden for the US taxpayers. The same old methodology for disposing of PFOS in Japan is incineration because the compound breaks down at temperatures over about 850 levels.
The scandal in Okinawa was met with some schadenfreude in China, as evidenced by a cartoon printed by the state information outlet CGTN. It highlights a parallel between the incident and the way the Japanese authorities itself approached the disposal of wastewater that was used to chill down the nuclear reactor of the Fukushima energy plant. The reactor went right into a meltdown after being broken by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
In April, Tokyo introduced plans to launch greater than 1.25 million tons of the water into the Pacific Ocean in about two years, assuring that it could be completely protected. The information enraged many regional international locations, together with China, however the US gave Japan a nod of approval. Beijing recommended that Tokyo ought to ship the water to Washington on the time.
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