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Something in the Water: Life After Mercury Poisoning (2017) (jstor.org)
10 points by onychomys 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 2 comments



This all took a while to figure out, but court proceedings ultimately found Chisso responsible in 1973, charging it with negligence for not foreseeing the risk posed by its wastewater. Long beforehand, in the summer of 1959, factory hospital doctor Hajime Hosokawa had been conducting his own experiment by giving Chisso wastewater to cats. When one of these – the now infamous cat 400 – developed signs of Minamata disease, he reported it to management.

They ordered him to keep further experiments secret, then spent years denying responsibility as Minamata’s disease outbreak drew media attention. Backed by the national government and scientists in Tokyo, Chisso criticised researchers who blamed the disease on mercury from the factory and supported research that hunted for other potential causes, like the victim-blaming theory that Minamata residents had eaten already-spoiled fish. The corporation even staged a misleading photo-op to prove the wastewater was being safely treated.

To me, this kind of thing is at least as horrifying as a random killing spree at a school, all the moreso because the perpetrators are in plain sight, but are never personally held responsible. Even if they didn't know mercury could be methylated in the environment, mercury itself was known to be toxic in the 1930s. I don't see how dumping untreated chemicals into the water in the name of making more money is anything but sociopathic behavior.


> I don't see how dumping untreated chemicals into the water in the name of making more money is anything but sociopathic behavior.

Heh, exactly what happens with clandestine drugs productions but it could also be a matter of not getting caught. In the end, the dumping of chemicals is always one way or another money related.




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