Read the full article by Pat Elder (Military Poisons)

“Okinawa is in the crosshairs of intense superpower confrontation. The U.S. military’s contamination of the land and people is secondary to American security concerns regarding China. The red marker is the site of a landfill used by Kadena Air Base, the largest U.S. military installation in the Asia-Pacific region. The site has alarming levels of PFAS from the American base.

Here, you can see the proximity of the Kadena Air Base runway to the site where we found dangerous levels of PFAS in the leachate flowing from the military’s toxic stew. The island of Okinawa is severely contaminated with PFAS.

Masafumi Teruya has been studying PFAS in Okinawa for years. He is joined at the Kurashiki military leachate site by Hideaki Ikehara, with the group, ‘Okinawa Citizens’ Association for Protecting Life from PFAS.’ The men say the U.S. military is responsible for the contamination.

 A groundwater survey conducted by the Okinawa Prefecture Environment Department in 2018 at the Kurashiki Environment site found high concentrations of PFAS directly below Kurashiki Dam, which is adjacent to the facility. These findings were revealed in documents obtained by Masami Kawamura, head of the Informed-Public Project, (IPP), Okinawa through a request for disclosure of information. Kawamura’s work has helped people to understand the frightening threat to their health from the U.S. military’s callous disregard for the environment and human health.

According to the prefectural investigation at the time, PFOA was found at 2,600 ppt. and PFOS was reported at 1,100 ppt.

Our sampling found 316 ppt for PFOA, 236.6 ppt of PFOS, with a total of 1,450.9 ppt for 27 compounds. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set its interim lifetime health advisory for PFOA in drinking water and groundwater at .004 ppt. The 316 ppt of PFOA found in the heart of Okinawa is 79,000 higher than this threshold.    

Understandably, Teruya and Ikehara say they expected higher levels. These tests of the water are a snapshot in time, dependent on weather conditions, water table levels, precipitation levels, and other factors.

Japan must undertake regular testing at this site and all other landfills throughout the country. Industrial and residential disposal sites also contain high levels of PFAS.

Teruya and Ikehara speak of press reports that describe how Kurashiki’s disposal company contracted with the U.S. military to dispose of the waste from Kadena Airbase, Marine Air Corps Station Futenma, and Camp Kinzer. Investigative reporter Jon Mitchell reported that 142 tons of fire extinguishing agent from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma was buried at the Kurashiki site.

Mr. Ikehara believes that contaminated water is being pumped and sprayed over the landfill and that it is returning to the environment and making things worse. ‘The incinerator is in the neighborhood by the trash heap, and they are reusing this contaminated water as cooling water as well,’ he explains.  There is also concern among locals who believe the water evaporates during cooling and is released into the atmosphere. 

Military, industrial, and household waste contains high amounts of PFAS. The chemicals do not readily break down in most municipal incinerators. The down-wind areas must be analyzed for toxicity in the soil and water. This is an even larger problem throughout mainland Japan where trash containing PFAS is regularly burned. Carcinogenic dust settles on the land, in the water and in our lungs and our homes.  PFAS along streams and riverbanks may dry in the sun and be lifted by the wind into the air to exacerbate the problem. Dust in homes near an Air Force base in Martinsburg, West Virginia had concentrations above 10 million parts per trillion for both PFOS and PFHxS. Our children are endangered. People must be careful not to stir up dust when they clean their homes. Air filters should be changed frequently.

Hideaki Ikehara said he was not familiar with any of the 27 compounds we reported other than PFOS, PFOA, and PFHXS. The same is pretty much true throughout Japan. Things of this nature just don’t get reported.  

Many of the 27 compounds here likely did not originate from usage in firefighting foams. Instead, the toxins are employed in a host of military applications, from chrome plating to engine cleaning to wire coating. Over the years materials containing these chemicals were crushed and buried in the land, resulting in highly toxic liquid leachate contaminating groundwater and surface water forever.

Please examine the results here. The left side of the graphic shows the abbreviation of the 27 PFAS compounds, and the right side shows the concentration of the toxins in parts per trillion.

Often, the US military and Japanese authorities will only report on two PFAS compounds – PFOS and PFOA. These chemicals are no longer being produced but they may remain on the island forever. PFOS and PFOA total 552.5 parts per trillion (ppt.). This is 38% of the overall total. All of these compounds are believed to endanger human health in the smallest concentrations.

The water contained 316 ppt of PFOA. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established an interim lifetime health advisory of .004 ppt for PFOA in drinking water and groundwater. 316 ppt is 79,000 times over the American threshold.

The water also contained 236.5 ppt of PFOS. The EPA’s interim lifetime health advisory for PFOS is .02 ppt, so the water here is 11,825 times over that limit.

Another way to look at this is to examine the mandatory limits in place for six PFAS compounds in drinking water and well water in the state of Massachusetts. The state will shut down municipal water service providers if the total of these six compounds exceeds 20 ppt. (The MA 6).

Here are the corresponding levels of the MA 6 found in groundwater in the heart of Okinawa. Meanwhile, Japan suggests that PFOS and PFOA in water ought to be below 50 ppt. There is no mandatory limit in Okinawa or anywhere in Japan.

PFOS         236.5         

Total           895.7   

Our food chain starts with the invertebrates.

It is most dangerous to have the concentrations of these chemicals coursing through the groundwater and surface water! It means the entire region is highly contaminated, while aquatic invertebrates are seriously impacted. These are the small, creepy, crawly things that most people don’t eat, although these organisms are consumed by larger fish and animals we do consume.

What’s in your fish? 

The state of California classifies PFOS and PFOA as human carcinogens while the United States government still does not consider them to be ‘hazardous substances.’  They’re deadly.

It’s a witch’s brew.”…