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13 more barrels dug up near Kadena schools

OKINAWA CITY – The Japan Ministry of Defense said Thursday an additional 13 corroded barrels were found beneath a soccer field adjacent to Kadena Air Base’s primary and intermediate schools.

The barrels were discovered beneath two others initially detected Tuesday when the latest unearthing began, according to a spokesman for the ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau.

A previous underground section of the field was found to have 22 dioxin- and herbicide tainted drums, shocking parents who send their children to base schools within sight of the field.

The new discovery brings the total number of barrels found in the field to 47, the spokesman said.

The latest barrels were rusted, crushed and marked with unreadable English, he said.

The ministry plans to dig in three more spots on the field where earlier magnetic surveys detected buried metals.

The soccer field land, southeast of present day Kadena AB, was used by the Air Force until 1986, when it was returned to Okinawa control.

The 22 empty Dow Chemical Co. barrels already recovered were found to contain traces of dioxin, a common pollutant linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, immune system damage and hormone imbalances.

sumida.chiyomi@stripes.com

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