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GUSHIKAWA, Okinawa — Local officials say they’re upset over a jet fuel leak Wednesday at a U.S. Army fuel tank farm.

Although the leak was contained within the storage site, Gushikawa officials said it could have been much worse and demanded a local investigation.

They also asked the Army to take measures to prevent future spills.

The Army already is doing that, says spokesman Tim Dougherty of the 10th Army Support Group at Torii Station.

“This is a case where we were on top of the situation from the start and prevented a major spill,” he said Thursday.

The spill occurred about 2:40 p.m. in a manhole outside a valve box at the tank farm near Camp Courtney, he said.

Up to 30 gallons of JP-5, a kerosene-based jet fuel, spilled.

Firefighters and cleanup specialists responded quickly, preventing the fuel from seeping into a nearby ditch carrying water to local sugar cane crops, he said. The spill was contained in special on-site spill ditches.

“The pipeline was being monitored and everything was handled appropriately,” he said.

“There was a mechanical failure of a gasket on a flange — similar to a gasket on a valve in a car. The reduction in pressure was noted almost immediately, and the line was shut off and the fuel rerouted."

“Everything’s cleaned up out there,” Dougherty said. “We put up the barriers and the spill booms to protect the area and made sure there was no threat to the surrounding environment.”

But Gushikawa Mayor Tsuneo Chinen is upset about the incident.

“I smelled a strong odor in the area of the accident site,” he told Japanese reporters Wednesday. “Such an accident could lead to a major disaster.”


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