National

Tokyo to compensate those poisoned by Suginami waste facility

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will compensate victims of hydrogen sulfide poisoning caused by the operation of a waste-processing facility in Suginami Ward, officials announced Tuesday.

This is the first time the metro government will offer compensation to residents living near the waste facility.

Hydrogen sulfide poisoning has caused residents to suffer symptoms such as eye and skin irritation, chest pain, respiratory problems, headaches and dizziness.

Residents started reporting such symptoms in April 1996, after the facility was built to compress household waste. Illness among residents had commonly been referred to as Suginami Disease.

Toxic fumes entered households through sewers from a tank in the facility that collected nearly a week’s worth of water from household garbage, a metropolitan government panel said in March.

Waste water from the Suginami garbage relay station released high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, a foul-smelling and soluble gas, between March 1 and July 18 of 1996, when officials ceased using the oversize tank, the committee found.

Those diagnosed with hydrogen sulfide poisoning between March and August 1996 and who lived or passed through a roughly 250,000-sq.-meter area neighboring the relay station during this time are eligible for compensation. About 2,000 people reside in this area, which also includes Suginami Ward’s Igusamori Park.

A total 56 people have filed complaints during this period, metro officials said. Of these, one person was hospitalized for 80 days, and eight are still receiving treatment.

The metro government will cover medical fees, 5,500 yen per day for work missed and compensation of up to 4,100 yen per day at the hospital, officials said.

Applications will be accepted beginning Sept. 1 and will be studied by a committee of experts in time for payment in January at the earliest, officials said.

The metro government estimates that it will be liable for compensation totaling about 30 million yen to roughly 100 residents.

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