MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — One man’s trash might be another man’s peril.

Military officials here are reminding base residents to avoid throwing certain hazardous materials in their household garbage.

With every piece of refuse collected from base hand-sorted at an off-base recycling and incineration center, items such as propane gas cylinders, rusty car batteries, old paint and aerosol cans need to be discarded separately.

“It should never get to the trash bin,” said Master Sgt. William Hazelton, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of service contracts.

The place to take most kinds of household industrial waste: the Joint Hazardous Waste Storage Facility in Building 977 on base.

Signs posted at housing trash collection sites say so, but not everyone is heeding them.

Since July, about 400 propane bottles of various shapes and sizes have been retrieved from base garbage, according to Kazuko Morita, the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron contractor liaison.

When the contractor fills up a 55-gallon drum with propane tanks, it calls the base to pick them up, she said.

Morita worries about the gas cylinders exploding in the garbage truck.

“It’s very dangerous for the driver,” she said.

Another potentially hazard that’s shown up in Misawa’s trash is bullets and bullet shells, officials said, noting it’s been two months since the last incident. In one instance, a plastic bag of bullets was found curbside in the housing area.

The contractors sorting garbage evacuate their work site whenever ammunition is discovered, Morita said. Explosive Ordnance Disposal on base is called to handle the items.

Base officials said ammunition or ammunition casings of any kind should be turned over to security forces or put in the amnesty box managed by EOD in Building 955.

“We want to encourage personnel to dispose of these items properly and will accept them for turn in with few questions asked,” Maj. Scott Sanford, 35th Security Forces Squadron commander said.

The amnesty box is free and anonymous.

Where to dispose of hazardous wasteJoint Hazardous Waste Storage Facility, Building 977:

Car batteries, tires, motor oilPaint, spray cans, electronic batteriesLiquid propane gas bottles, light bulbsThe facility is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s best to call ahead to make sure someone is at the facility; DSN 226-2300.Auto Hobby Center, Building 767:

Car batteries, tires and motor oilHours are Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call DSN 226-4654 for more information.Recycling Center, Building 1366:

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now