Urasoe habu have high concentrations of PCB and DDT
A joint study by researchers from Meio University in Nago and Ehime University in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, has established that habu, a poisonous snake species on Okinawa, collected in Urasoe City area, have high concentrations of PCB and DDT, in their body. The samples collected were limited to areas around Camp Kinser in Urasoe.
Yutaka Tashiro, a professor of Meio University, says that there is a high possibility that the base is the source of the contamination. Individual habu snakes live in relatively limited areas, and are on the top of the food chain, so they are likely to reflect the actual environmental conditions in their habitat.
The research group investigated 12 male habu caught between Oct. 2013 and Dec. 2014 for concentrations of toxic substances. All of them had PCB or DDT in their bodies, and five of them that had especially high concentrations of PCB and DDT were captured in areas near Camp Kinser.
The group had reported in 2013 that mongooses caught on Camp Kinser have accumulated PCB in high concentrations. This time, the group had investigated habu, an animal that is less active than mongoose.
Following the report, Urasoe City Mayor Tetsuji Matsumoto held a press meeting on Sep. 4th, and announced that the city has requested a private company to conduct water survey at four points of a river and the ocean around Camp Kinser. In addition, city officials are setting traps for habu in 20 areas, and are planning contract a laboratory to analyze the captured snakes. The city will also ask the national government for an investigation.