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Minimata Then, Fukushima Now via asia sentinel

Lesson from Japan’s 1950s mercury poisoning nightmare

Before the Fukushima tsunami and near-nuclear meltdown in March, the greatest environmental disaster in Japan, indeed, one of the greatest in the entire world, was Minamata disease, a neurological affliction caused by severe mercury poisoning which can cause limb paralysis, difficulties in walking, mental confusion and death.

It is named after Minamata Bay on the southern island of Kyushu. The Chisso chemical company had been dumping mercury-contaminated waste water in the bay for decades. In the 1950s and 1960s, many people living in the vicinity came down with strange illnesses tied to eating the mercury-contaminated fish caught in the bay.

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