Massive traffic backups expected on Okinawa during ordnance removal
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Massive traffic backups are expected on Okinawa’s main artery over the weekend due to road closures related to the removal of an unexploded 5-inch shell from World War II.
The Makiminato section of Highway 58 near Camp Kinser will be closed between 9:45 a.m. and noon Sunday, or until the disposal is completed, said a spokesman from Urasoe City’s disaster prevention and crisis management office.
The shell was fired from an American warship during the Battle of Okinawa in early 1945. Found at a construction site near the roadway, it will be handled by a bomb-disposal team from the 101st Unexploded Ordnance Disposal Squad of the 15th Brigade Okinawa of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force.
Residents and workers from 206 households and 39 businesses must evacuate during the disposal process.
The end to the closures and evacuations will be marked by a loud horn lasting for 30 seconds.
Since Okinawa was reverted to Japanese control in 1972, the 101st Unexploded Ordinance Disposal Squad has responded to 35,699 ordnance-related cases as of May 2 and disposed of approximately 1,742 tons of World War II-era munitions, according to the brigade’s website.