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YOKOSUKA, Japan — More than 630 plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to stop dredging work at Yokosuka Naval Base cited health risks and safety concerns as reasons for seeking the project’s suspension, which they hope also will prevent a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier from being deployed to the base.

During Monday’s hearing, the first for the civil lawsuit against the Japanese government, at Yokohama District Court in Yokosuka, one of the plaintiffs and her lawyer made statements claiming dredging will pose health risks since dirt contains harmful substances.

They also expressed concerns for safety once a nuclear carrier is assigned to Yokosuka next year.

The Japanese government’s project to dredge 600,000 cubic meters of dirt from Piedmont Pier is needed to house the USS George Washington, which will replace the conventionally powered USS Kitty Hawk.

The work began on Aug. 10.

“We have utmost confidence in Japanese authorities that the matter will be handled professionally and properly,” said Commander, Naval Forces Japan spokesman Cmdr. David Waterman.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer said after the hearing that they plan to seek a preliminary injunction from the court next week that would temporarily stop the dredging.

A similar lawsuit from 10 Yokosuka residents against Yokosuka city is ongoing in Yokohama District Court.

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