Deadly Poisonous Cyanide Outflow in Tokyo Bay and Surrounding Rivers Horrified Residents | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Deadly Poisonous Cyanide Outflow in Tokyo Bay and Surrounding Rivers Horrified Residents

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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

The Koito River has turned red due to the poisonous substances (courtesy of Kimitsu City).

When the reporter visited the site on July 6, the color of the water had returned to normal in the waterway where the cyanide had flowed out and at the confluence of the Koito River about 1.7 km away, but dead fish were still floating in many places.

The fishing port near the plant voiced their concern: “We are now on high alert for the condition of the sea. We have not confirmed any impact on fish, but if cyanide were to flow out again, it might affect the summer flounder and sea bass fishing,” said an official working at the Futtsu fishing port.

“Just when we thought the outflow had stopped, leaks also occurred from the Kisarazu side on June 30 and July 1. If fish contamination or harmful rumors occur, it could become a compensation issue. The Kisarazu coast is in the ebb and flow season until the end of July, and we are receiving inquiries from people who are concerned about the situation,” said an official at a fishing port in Kisarazu.

According to Chiba Prefecture, cyanide is decomposed in seawater, so it is unlikely that the spill will affect the human body. However, the prefecture and neighboring cities are urging people to stay away from the waterways that flow near the steel mill and the mouth of the Koito River, and not to drink the water in the area or touch or eat fish.

This is the view of Nippon Steel Corporation.

“We sincerely apologize for the concern and inconvenience caused to nearby residents and related parties. We take this situation very seriously and are now sincerely responding to the guidance of Chiba Prefecture, neighboring cities, and the Japan Coast Guard, while at the same time considering measures to prevent a recurrence.” (Kimitsu District General Affairs Department).

If the spilled cyanide enters the human body, it will be irreversible. An investigation into the cause and thorough countermeasures are required.

Fish carcasses were found in the surrounding area.
Panoramic view of the troubled Nippon Steel plant
Signs warning people to be careful
  • Reporting, writing, and photography Shun Kirishima

    Journalist. Born in Tochigi Prefecture in 1965. He has covered a wide range of topics from nuclear power plant issues to professional baseball. He is active mainly in magazines such as "FRIDAY," "Weekly Playboy," and "Asahi Weekly.

  • Some images Courtesy of Kimitsu City

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