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Report: Wells in Japan show high levels of water contamination

Report: Wells in Japan show high levels of water contamination
Wells in Japan near Yokota Air Base are showing signs of contamination, according to a Japanese press report. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Harmful chemicals showing contamination 19 times the level set by U.S. drinking safety standards were found in a well near Yokota Air Base, where U.S. troops are stationed in Japan.

The findings are from the city of Tokyo's health and welfare bureau, which analyzed water samples collected from the well in January 2019, the Asahi Shimbun reported Monday.

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The analysis indicates high levels of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate, or PFOS, and Perfluorooctanoic Acid, or PFOA, are present in the water; the examinations took place after a British journalist filed a report in 2018 regarding a "firefighting foam" leakage from a storage tank at Yokota Air Base in 2012, according to the Asahi.

One of the four wells that were sampled showed a combined 1,340 nanograms of PFOS and PFOA, or 19 times the U.S. government recommended levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends a limit of 70 nanograms of the substances per liter of drinking water.

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U.S. military officials in Japan have not responded to requests from Japanese city government to make a statement regarding the contamination.

According to the Asahi, PFOS AND PFOA are banned in Japan. Both chemicals are prohibited by the international Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

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On Monday a Tokyo city representative said it is "not conclusive" the origin of the contamination is Yokota Air Base.

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"The underground water veins are complex," the source said, adding the investigation cannot be complete without cooperation from the U.S. air base.

The report of contaminated water near the base in Japan comes at a time when the country has yet to decide on the disposal of 164,000 tons of nuclear waste.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Monday Japan has yet to arrive at a solution on the disposal of about 93 percent of the large-scale, low-level radioactive waste originating from nuclear plants outside Fukushima.

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