Aircraft fuel spill at US naval air station near Tokyo affects local river
Stars and Stripes May 25, 2023
TOKYO — Aviation fuel spilled from storage tanks on a U.S. Navy base near Japan’s capital city Wednesday and flowed into a local river, according to U.S. and Japanese officials.
An undisclosed amount of JP-5 aviation fuel spilled from Naval Air Facility Atsugi into the Tate River, which runs through the base, according to statements from neighboring Ayase city and a base spokesman.
The base fire department responded to the spill around 3:10 a.m. Wednesday, base spokesman Greg Mitchell told Stars and Stripes by phone on Thursday.
“The fuel leak has been stopped,” his office said in a statement emailed later that day. “Current efforts are focused on a thorough clean-up. The Navy values the health and safety of the community, and the importance of the environment.”
City officials found fuel in the river near the Tachikawa Bridge on Wednesday, according to a statement on the Ayase city website. The city placed a mat at the site to collect the fuel and closed part of a local park that afternoon.
Local officials visited the naval base that day, according to the city’s statement.
Ayase Mayor Masayoshi Koshio spoke by phone with NAF Atsugi’s commander, Capt. Manning Montagnet, and asked that U.S. personnel quickly collect and treat the spill, according to the statement.
Koshio asked that U.S. officials determine the spill’s cause, take preventative measures, mitigate environmental impact and continue to provide information swiftly, the statement said.
A full investigation will be carried out, Mitchell said.
The air station until 2018 was home to Carrier Air Wing 5, which deploys aboard the Yokosuka-based USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. Those aircraft are now based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, hundreds of miles to the south in Yamaguchi prefecture.
NAF Atsugi is still home to several Navy helicopter squadrons and 10,000 personnel made up of U.S. and Japanese service members, civilian employees and family members, according to its website.