A final hearing on a lawsuit in which 10 Yokosuka residents are seeking suspension of dredging at Yokosuka Naval Base concluded Wednesday.

“Now is the time to correct administrative failure and put judicial system to the test, so that this won’t be the beginning of irreversible accidents and contamination in the future,” the lawyer for the residents, Masahiko Goto, read in a statement in Yokohama District Court. City officials have testified that the procedure they followed in developing the dredging project complied with the law. The court is to deliver its decision Feb. 27.

The residents filed the administrative lawsuit against Yokosuka city claiming that it, as port manager, should not have accepted the Japanese government’s plan to dredge 600,000 cubic meters of dirt from Piedmont Pier.

Dredging is needed to berth the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which is to replace the conventionally powered USS Kitty Hawk next summer. Fishermen, peace activists and residents who fish in the port for pleasure claimed that the work could cause environmental deterioration and that having a nuclear-powered carrier at Yokosuka could be dangerous.

Another 600 people are seeking suspension of the dredging in a separate legal action. In the meantime, residents are seeking a court-ordered temporary halt to the work.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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