Yokota base officials investigate fuel spill
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Base civil engineers, along with bioenvironmental and medical personnel, scrambled Tuesday to neutralize a fuel spill at the Tokorozawa communications site, a satellite installation about 20 miles northeast of Yokota, which is operated by the 374th Airlift Wing.
Yokota officials, notified of the leak at about 11 a.m., said approximately 21,000 gallons of diesel fuel seeped from a tank supplying a generator used to run communications equipment in the event of a commercial power failure. All of it was contained within the site, and no one was injured in the incident, officials said.
An investigation is under way to determine the cause.
“Upon completion of the initial assessment, there has been no impact to the local community or environment,” said 1st Lt. Warren Comer, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman. “Basically, they set up a berm of clean dirt around the area to make sure nothing else leaks out.”
Working with the Defense Facilities Administration Office and the Tokorozawa Fire Department, Yokota civil engineers took three corrective measures Tuesday to eliminate any hazards to the surrounding community, wing officials said: They applied absorbent material to the area, built a soil barrier around the site and blocked the adjacent drainage ditch to prevent runoff in the event of rain.
Those measures will stay in place until base officials complete a remediation plan, in which all contaminated soil will be removed and replaced.
The initial assessment of Tuesday’s fuel spill was aided by the DFAO and Tokorozawa City officials. Tokyo’s Defense Facilities Administration Bureau was informed of the leak at 11:30 a.m.
The Tokorozawa facility is a small radio site run by 374th Communications Squadron personnel, who are shuttled there every day from Yokota. Comer said about 10 people work at the location, including at least three who are Japanese citizens.
The fenced-in compound, which has two buildings and a radio tower, once served as home to the Far East Network, an American Forces Network affiliate.
“Its main mission is to act as a global high-frequency communications site,” Comer said. “It has 25 high-frequency transmitters that support global high-frequency communications required for the Air Force and Navy.”
—Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.