FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECIV
MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2000(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES SUIT AGAINST JAPANESE COMPANY OVER AIR POLLUTION AT U.S. NAVY BASE NEAR TOKYO
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States has filed a civil lawsuit in Yokohama, Japan, against the owner and operator of a waste disposal incinerator adjacent to the Atsugi U.S. Naval Air Facility outside Tokyo, the Justice Department announced today. The suit alleges that toxic emissions from the incinerator complex, owned by Enviro-Tech (formerly Shinkampo), threaten the health and safety of the more than 8,000 American and Japanese civilian and military personnel living and working at the base. It further alleges that the incinerator spews high levels of dioxin, a suspected carcinogen, as well as numerous other toxic substances.
The suit charges that Enviro-Tech's operation interferes with the U.S. government's rights of property use and possession. It seeks immediate suspension of the company's incinerator operations in order to stop the toxic pollution.
"This lawsuit is an important step toward affirming our commitment to protecting all those living and working on U.S. military bases wherever they are located," said David W. Ogden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department's Civil Division. "We know that this toxic pollution also affects thousands of Japanese citizens living near the incinerator. We hope that our action will also bring them relief from this unacceptable hazard."
The U.S. complaint cites considerable scientific and technical evidence of the existence of high levels of dioxin and other toxic substances found at the Atsugi base. A joint monitoring study, conducted last year under Japanese and U.S. government auspices, revealed dioxin levels as high as 90 times the current Japanese ambient air standard and pointed to Enviro-Tech's operation as the source. Such dioxin levels are reported to be the highest ambient air dioxin levels ever recorded in Japan.
Ogden said that the health and safety concerns have had a substantial, negative impact upon the Navy's operations at the Atsugi military base. The suit points out that a multimillion dollar Child Development Center, built over the past two years for Navy families living on the base, has never been placed in service because it sits in the path of the smoke plume.