"Japan Pays 2,000 Victims of Minamata Mercury Poisoning"

"TOKYO -- Japan on Monday settled a suit by more than 2,000 victims of mercury poisoning, half a century after the country's worst industrial pollution disaster hit the fishing town of Minamata.

From the 1950s on a synthetic resin factory run by chemical company Chisso Corp dumped methyl mercury into the bay of the town on southwestern Kyushu island, poisoning the marine habitat and the local population.

Victims suffered spasms, seizures and loss of sensation and motor control that impaired their ability to walk and speak. Babies
were born with nervous system damage and other mental and physical deformities.

In Monday's court settlement, 2,123 previously unrecognized victims were granted one-off payments of 2.1 million yen ($23,000) each from the company, and a monthly state medical allowance of up to 17,700 yen."

AFP had the story March 30, 2010.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010