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Friday, Feb. 11, 2011

Group blames coral death in Okinawa on construction

NAHA, Okinawa Pref. (Kyodo) A citizens' group is claiming that soil runoff from ongoing construction of a marine park is killing coral along a coast of Miyako Island, Okinawa Prefecture.

News photo
Blight on the ocean: A partially dead coral — the portion colored white — is seen in November off Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture. COURTESY OF YASUSHI IZAWA

Group representative Yasushi Izawa has filed a request with an environmental pollution committee of the central government to investigate the cause of coral death in the area.

According to the group, Kaichu Koen Wo Shimin Kanshi Suru Kai (A Civic Group to Monitor the Marine Park), the island's municipal government hasn't properly managed the construction and let about 1,000 tons of reddish soil flow into the sea.

Work on the park started in November.

Izawa said the soil, combined with fine lime particles also spread in the water, has killed tens of thousands of corals.

"If the city or prefectural government properly manage (the work), it would not have affected the coral," Izawa told a recent news conference at the Environment Ministry.

The municipal government claims it has properly set up screens to prevent soil from getting into the water.

"There were some storms, so some corals were damaged and killed by broken screens that scraped the sea bottom. But we have properly repaired the screens," a city official in charge of the project said.

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