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Poisoning the Pacific: Author Releases Uncovered Documents on Toxic Pollutants at U.S. Bases

Chemical weapons were stockpiled on Johnston Atoll beginning in 1971,[2] including weapons transferred from Okinawa during the 1971 Operation Red Hat. Some of the other weapons stored at the site, including Sarin (GB) and VX Nerve Agent, were shipped from U.S. stockpiles in Germany in 1990.

An investigative journalist and contracted correspondent for the Japan Times and Okinawa Times who lives in Yokohama, released over a dozen documents that he uncovered while writing “Poisoning the Pacific: The U.S. Military’s Secret Dumping of Plutonium, Chemical Weapons and Agent Orange,” which was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October.1

It’s been almost 10 years since Jon Mitchell first broke the news in The Japan Times about the American military’s use of Agent Orange on Okinawa. Mitchell says that discovery was only the beginning: “My initial research snowballed into a 10 year accumulation of facts on the persistent military contamination of Okinawa and beyond, an ongoing list of environmental crimes that have been perpetrated throughout the entire Pacific region.”2

The book documents “the US Army disposing of 29 million kilograms of mustard agent and nerve agents, and 454 tons of radioactive waste” into the Pacific Ocean, as well as the US military’s use of nerve agents, including sarin, which US government documents confirm were leaked into the environment while slated for destruction on Johnston Atoll near Hawaii.3

Included in the document release are:

Overseas Storage of Chemical Agents/Munitions Chief of Staff, United States Army, July 22, 1969. Memorandum about Project 112 (Red Hat), storage of chemical weapons and leak at Chibana Army Ammunition Depot.

“Organizational History – 267th Chemical Company,” United States Army, March 26, 1966. Summary of Project 112 site, personnel training and shipment of chemical weapons to Okinawa.

“Arsenic Poisoning of Beef Cattle,” United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands, January 3, 1962. Report into deaths of cows following usage of herbicides in northern Okinawa.

“Technical Report 60: Rice Blast Epiphytology,” United States Army Biological Laboratories Fort Detrick, June 1965. Report on biological weapon tests at sites on Okinawa including Shuri, Ishikawa and Nago.

View the full list of key documents cited in Poisoning the Pacific here (select Features).


1. Author: Trove of US documents on toxic substances in Okinawa may help veterans’ claims. Stars and Stripes, 23 Nov 2020

2. Calling out the U.S. military for ‘Poisoning the Pacific’. The Japan Times, 31 Oct 2020

3. ‘Poisoning the Pacific’: New book details US military contamination of islands and ocean. The Guardian, 10 Oct 2020

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