HomeNewsArticle Display

UPDATE: U.S. Navy salvage operations conclude, U.S. Air Force spill team efforts continue

U.S. Navy Diver 2nd Class Mitchell Apgar, assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, dives into Lake Ogawara during cleanup efforts in Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018.

U.S. Navy Diver 2nd Class Mitchell Apgar, assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, dives into Lake Ogawara during cleanup efforts in Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018. U.S. Navy Sailors continue working side-by-side with 35th Fighter Wing Airmen to salvage debris until the beginning of next week to ensure a safe environment for all. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Navy Diver 2nd Class Mitchell Apgar, assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, watches another boat conduct cleanup efforts at Lake Ogawara, Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018.

U.S. Navy Diver 2nd Class Mitchell Apgar, assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, watches another boat conduct cleanup efforts at Lake Ogawara, Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018. U.S. Navy Sailors continue working side-by-side with 35th Fighter Wing Airmen as together they salvage debris until the beginning of next week to ensure a safe environment for all. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Navy divers assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Sasebo, walk to the pier at Lake Ogawara prior to clean up efforts in Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018.

U.S. Navy divers assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Sasebo, walk to the pier at Lake Ogawara prior to clean up efforts in Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018. U.S. Navy Sailors continue working side-by-side with 35th Fighter Wing Airmen to salvage debris until the beginning of next week to ensure a safe environment for all. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Navy Diver 2nd Class Mitchell Apgar, assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, prepares diving equipment prior to cleanup efforts at Lake Ogawara, Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018.

U.S. Navy Diver 2nd Class Mitchell Apgar, assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, prepares diving equipment prior to cleanup efforts at Lake Ogawara, Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018. After the dismissal of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, U.S. Navy divers assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Sasebo continued cleanup efforts after an F-16 Fighting Falcon jettisoned two external fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force personnel prepare equipment at Lake Ogawara, Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018.

U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force personnel prepare equipment at Lake Ogawara, Tohoku Town, Japan, March 10, 2018. After the dismissal of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, U.S. Navy divers assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Sasebo continued cleanup efforts after an F-16 Fighting Falcon jettisoned two external fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

UPDATE: US Navy arrives, continues Lake Ogawara cleanup alongside 35th FW

U.S. Air Force Airmen and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force members execute cleanup efforts at Lake Ogawara, Tohoku Town, Japan, March 5, 2018. These efforts resulted from an in-flight emergency, which required the pilot to jettison two external fuel tanks on Feb. 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Samantha Morrison)

UPDATE: US Navy arrives, continues Lake Ogawara cleanup alongside 35th FW

U.S. Air Force Col. Paul Kirmis, the 35th Fighter Wing vice commander, shakes hands with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Kaijo Jieitai) Lt. Cmdr. Kouhei Ueda, the explosive ordnance disposal order chief, JMSDF Ōminato Area Guard Group, Ōminato District, Mutsu City, during the departure ceremony in Tohoku Town, Japan, March 7, 2018. The ceremony commemorated Kaijo Jieitai’s efforts and witnessed their official departure after they met their disaster response goals alongside the 35th FW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

UPDATE: US Navy arrives, continues Lake Ogawara cleanup alongside 35th FW

U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Pummill, the Naval Air Facility-Misawa commanding officer, watches the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Kaijo Jeitai) departure ceremony in Tohoku Town, Japan, March 7, 2018. The ceremony commemorated Kaijo Jieitai’s efforts and witnessed their official departure after they met their disaster response goals alongside the 35th Fighter Wing. Pummill attended to signify the arrival of U.S. Navy divers from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Sasebo, who will see the cleanup to its completion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

UPDATE: US Navy arrives, continues Lake Ogawara cleanup alongside 35th FW

U.S. Air Force members assigned to the 35th Fighter Wing and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force members from JMSDF Ōminato Base, Mutsu City, execute cleanup efforts at Lake Ogawara, Tohoku Town, Japan, March 5, 2018. These efforts resulted from an in-flight emergency, which required the pilot to jettison two external fuel tanks on Feb. 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

UPDATE: US Navy arrives, continues Lake Ogawara cleanup alongside 35th FW
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 10

Geoffrey Kumano, right, the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental program manager, and Tohoku Defense Bureau contractors locate areas to test water in Lake Ogawara, Tohoku Town, Japan, Feb. 22, 2018. An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 35th Fighter Wing experienced an in-flight emergency in the form of an engine fire shortly after takeoff Feb. 20, 2018. The IFE required the pilot to jettison two external storage fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. Navy divers from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Sasebo concluded cleanup efforts, March 13, after salvaging all recoverable tank debris.

The U.S. Air Force spill team continues fuel detection and cleanup operations.  This is the final phase of cleanup efforts.

The team detected no remaining fuel from March 8 through 13. Additionally, the USAF civil engineer environmental unit collected additional samples from the lake for testing; all test results to date have shown contaminant levels to be below the environmental standard.

The drawdown comes after nearly three weeks of cleanup operations. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, 35th Fighter Wing and U.S. Navy members worked together to clear all debris and conduct fuel detection and cleanup operations after the jettison of two external fuel tanks during an in-flight emergency on Feb. 20.

The cause of the IFE is still under investigation and more details will be released as they become available. Please contact the 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office with any questions by phone at 0176-77-3075 or email at 35fw.pa@us.af.mil.

---

Sailors from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Sasebo along with Airmen assigned to the 35th Fighter Wing ensured cleanup efforts continued at Lake Ogawara, March 10.

The team collected additional environmental samples, broke ice, removed several pieces of debris and searched for remaining fuel.

Airmen spotted sheen on the surface of the water, however, upon further investigation, discovered the fuel originated from a leaking city bus. The team then dammed, diked and diverted the oil away from the lake to assist the local community.

No additional fuel sheen was detected on the lake.

The U.S. Navy divers and 35th FW Airmen will continue operations until the beginning of next week to solidify a safe environment for all.

The cause of the in-flight emergency is still under investigation and more details will be released as they become available. Please contact the 35th FW Public Affairs Office with any questions by phone at 0176-77-3075 or email at 35fw.pa@us.af.mil.

------

U.S. Navy divers began work as the 35th Fighter Wing assumed responsibility for cleanup efforts at Lake Ogawara following a command changeover with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Wednesday.

The changeover comes after environmental survey, conducted by the 35th FW, results detected no measurable amounts of benzene or n-hexane (mineral, plant and animal) in the water. The survey was completed Feb. 22, and surveys continue to be conducted each day.

Tohoku Town Mayor Koji Ebina requested Aomori Prefecture to order the JMSDF departure because they surpassed the established initial goal set for the disaster response team. Additionally, Air Force and JMSDF joint net operations proved a significant drop in the risk of large debris damaging fishing gear.

With the departure of the JMSDF, U.S. Navy divers from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Sasebo will continue cleanup operations until completion.

Bilateral cleanup operations involving both the JMSDF and 35th FW spanned nearly two weeks at the lake. Personnel salvaged debris, broke apart ice on the lake to allow for fuel evaporation, used pads for fuel absorption and conducted continuous environmental testing.

“Since receiving a request for the disaster response team, we conducted a variety of activities and surveys for half a month,” said JMSDF Lt. Cmdr. Kouhei Ueda, the explosive ordnance disposal order chief, Ōminato Area Guard Group, JMSDF Ōminato District. “As a result, we recovered 87 fragments of the tank debris alongside the U.S. military.”

The 35th FW commander expressed his gratitude for the partnership between the JMSDF and U.S. forces.

“I want to personally thank the JMSDF members for their hard work and dedication during this cleanup effort,” said Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th FW commander. “We are committed to performing our mission in an environmentally responsible manner, and we will continue to work with the local community to ensure Lake Ogawara remains safe for fishing and other endeavors.”

The cause of the IFE is still under investigation, and more details will be released as they become available. Please contact the 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office with any questions by phone at 0176-77-3075 or email at 35fw.pa@us.af.mil.



-----

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, Japan, experienced an in-flight emergency in the form of an engine fire shortly after takeoff at approximately 8:40 a.m., Feb. 20, 2018.

The fire required the pilot to jettison two external fuel tanks into an unpopulated area near Lake Ogawara. The aircraft was recovered safely on the installation airfield, and there were no injuries to the pilot or personnel on the ground.

“The safety of our Airmen and our Japanese neighbors is our number one priority during flying operations,” said Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th FW commander. “We will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the root cause of this incident.”

More details will be released as they become available.

---