High levels of arsenic found at Okinawa chopper crash site

JIJI

Arsenic at levels 21 times above what Japanese environmental regulations allow has been detected in soil where a U.S. military helicopter crashed last summer in Okinawa, the Defense Ministry bureau in the prefecture said Tuesday.

The bureau was told of the findings after the U.S. military investigated the site in Camp Hansen where the HH-60 helicopter crashed in August.

Citing the accident as the cause of the high levels of arsenic, the U.S. military has been removing surface soil.

Up to 0.215 mg of arsenic per liter of earth was detected, far above the upper limit of 0.01 mg allowed under the soil contamination countermeasure law.

Levels of lead, cadmium and fluorine also exceeded the environmental limit, but the U.S. military believes the fluorine is naturally occurring. Water behind a nearby dam met drinking water standards.

The U.S. Air Force and the Marine Corps conducted investigations into soil at some 20 spots between August and December. After work to remove surface soil ends Wednesday, the Okinawa Prefectural Government and the government of Ginoza, one of the municipalities that host Camp Hansen, will be allowed to enter the base to carry out an investigation.