More soil contamination found at former U.S. forces site in Okinawa

More soil contamination from fossil fuel has been found on land formerly occupied by a U.S. military facility in Okinawa and there are fears that the contaminants have spread via groundwater, according to an inspection report of the local defense bureau obtained Saturday by Kyodo News.

Contamination by what appeared to be jet fuel and gasoline was found in the northern part of Camp Kuwae, according to the Okinawa Defense Bureau's report for this year. Some of the land used by the base was handed back to Japan in 2003.

Under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, the United States has no obligation to clean up environmental contamination or make compensation when returning land occupied by U.S. forces facilities.

The report said ground water caused the contaminants to spread over a "wide area," and the level of fumes exceeded the limit set by the bureau and a local government in 19 of 20 soil samples taken from the 38-hectare site.

Of those samples, six contained more oil residues than allowed under local regulations. Such oils are believed to be non-volatile gas oil and lubricant oil, the report said.

The defense bureau will conduct a more detailed inspection, it said.

The land in question was a site for recreational facilities, according to officials of the town of Chatan, which hosts Camp Kuwae. Oil contamination had been found at other parts of the site in the past, but how the contamination occurred is not known, the officials said.