A river near the factory, dyed red by a deadly poison (courtesy of Kimitsu City)
“When I looked at the river running in front of my house, it was stained red and there were dead fish floating in the water. When I heard that the cause was the highly poisonous cyanide that leaked from the factory, I was horrified.”
Since June, highly toxic cyanide has been leaking into Tokyo Bay and surrounding rivers at the Kimitsu district of Nippon Steel Corporation’s East Japan Works (Kimitsu City, Chiba Prefecture).
“The first leak was discovered on June 18. Desulfurization liquid used in the production process leaked from a drainage outlet on the east side of the site and leaked into Tokyo Bay. On the following day, June 19, another leak occurred from the drainage outlet on the south side of the site, turning the waterway and the area near the mouth of the Koito River that connects to it red and causing fish to float on the surface of the water.”
“When the river water was tested, highly poisonous cyanide was detected. Even in July, cyanide was found to be flowing into Tokyo Bay,” said a reporter from the society department of a national newspaper.
Cyanide is highly toxic, causing breathing difficulties and death within seconds once it enters the human body. The lethal dose is 0.06 grams. Chiba Prefecture has strict effluent standards of less than 0.1 milligrams per liter.
“The cause of the leakage is not yet known. According to Nippon Steel, the June 18-20 leakage was from a tank holding about 3,000 cubic meters of desulfurization fluid at the plant, while the June 30 and July 1 leaks were from a blast furnace dust collection system. The leaks on June 30 and July 1 are believed to have come from the drainage route of the blast furnace dust collection facility.”
“However, the FGD solution does not originally contain cyanide. The detailed cause of the leak, including the route of contamination, is under investigation. The plant has a total of 17 drains, but the areas where cyanide and other harmful substances have been detected have been closed and water quality investigations are continuing.”
Serious Impact on Summer Fishing