From 1985 to 2001, personnel at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi in Atsugi, Japan may have been exposed to environmental contaminants from off-base waste incinerators.
Atsugi was built in 1938, by the Japanese Imperial Navy as the Kamikaze Naval Air Base. On August 15, 1945, Japan announced its unconditional surrender. On August 30, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur landed with 8,000 troops at Atsugi to accept the formal surrender and assume the duties as military Governor of Japan. For several years, the Army used the base as a storage area. In 1950, at the outset of the Korean War, the Navy selected/commissioned Atsugi as its major naval air station in the Far East and base restoration and development immediately began. At the height of the Korean War, more than 250 aircraft flew daily from Atsugi. After the War, NAS Atsugi began downsizing. At this time, the U.S. Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) became base partners, sharing the facilities at NAF Atsugi.
Potential health impacts claimed by those exposed include:
- AML Leukemia
- Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Brain Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Bone Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Renal Call Carcinoma
- Rectal Cancer
- T-Cell and Thyroid Cancer
Chemicals involved include:
Acetaldehyde, Arsenic, Benzene, Beryllium, Carbon Tetrachloride, Cadmium, Chloroform, Chromium, Dioxin, Formaldehyde, Hydrochloric Acid, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Nitrogen Dioxide, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Respirable Particulates (PM 10), Sulfur Dioxide, Tetrachloroethene (PCE), Trichloroethene (TCE), Vinyl Choride, cis-1,3 Dichloropropene, trans 1,2 Dichloropropene, 2,3,7,8, TCDD, 1,2 Dichlorethane, 1,2 Dichloropropane, 1,4 Dichlorobenzene, and others.
The VA Public Health Website contains the following quote:
Currently there is no definitive scientific evidence to show that living at NAF Atsugi while the incinerator operated caused additional risk for disease.
Relevant Links & Resources:
- VA Public Health Page – Atsugi
- Navy Document on Atsugi Incinerator
- NAF Atsugi Incinerator Group Page
- Stars & Stripes – Clearing the Air Around Atsugi Incinerator
- Japan Times – Is the Atsugi Tragedy Finally Drawing to a Close?
- Impacts of Dioxin Emissions from the Shinkampo Incinerator to the U.S. Naval Air Facility at Atsugi, Japan