YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The base natatorium was closed last week in preparation for a federally mandated safety upgrade.

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act requires anti-vortex drain covers be installed in all public pools, according to Paul Floyd, the 374th Force Support Squadron’s marketing director.

"These anti-vortex drains are an additional safety measure used to prevent drain suction and will be added to both the Natatorium and Sakana [outdoor] pools," he said.

The outdoor facility on Yokota’s west side is open only during the summer season. It’s unclear how long the natatorium shutdown will last, but it only affects pool and water activities.

Floyd said the locker rooms, showers and saunas are still available for use. Activities such as karate, dance classes and jiu-jitsu will not be interrupted.

"Our classes will continue as normally scheduled," he added, "(but) all swimming and water activities will be cancelled until further notice."

Base civil engineers are awaiting delivery of parts for the safety upgrades, officials said. That’s made it difficult to determine the project’s overall cost or pin down a reopening date for the natatorium.

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