FORTY years of suffering and deprivation
later, victims of one of the world's worst
pollution disasters were finally
promised compensation in a recent
settlement. An agreement was reached
between 1,500 Japanese victims of
Minamata disease - caused by mercury
pollution in Minamata Bay - and the
Chisso chemicals company, which has
promised around us $24,000 each.
The company had dumped mercury compounds into Minamata Bay between 1953 and 1960. The mercury got accumulated in shellfish and other fish consumed by the local people. It damaged nerves causing uncontrollable shaking and many women gave birth to severely deformed babies. There was a public outcry when the symptoms were traced back to dumped mercury. The government had to enforce pollution control measures to clean up the country)s water and air. Originally, 13,000 people had applied for the compensation, of which 3,000 were officially listed as suffering from diseases related to mercury pollution. The other victims had to turn to courts to seek compensation.
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