OSAKA – The Sakai Municipal Government in Osaka Prefecture has been forced to close a local park after finding levels of hexavalent chromium compound 460 times higher than the environmental standard in the soil.
Cyanide exceeding the standard was also found in Namimatsu Park, in the city’s Sakai Ward, municipal officials said.
Touching hexavalent chromium solution or inhaling its vaporized form can cause skin irritations, and contact with cyanide can cause headaches and dizziness.
The toxic soil was discovered after complaints from several residents in the neighborhood. Upon investigation, it was found that chemical substances had leaked into the park soil when an adjacent plating factory was demolished between May and June, according to the officials.
The demolition of the factory began sometime around May, and the wrecker used part of the park to place construction materials between May 10 and June 9 after getting permission from the city.
In June, the city received reports from residents saying something had irritated their eyes and caused them to vomit.
The officials said the city had received a report of a possible leak from another resident in May, and confirmed it with the demolition firm.
The firm admitted that it had spilled chemical substances at the demolition site, but denied the substances had leaked into the park, they said.
“The city officials did not detect any smell at the time, so they only gave a warning to the demolition firm. We should have conducted resident hearings earlier,” a city official said.
They said residents had confirmed the side effects they had experienced had since gone.
The official said the city will conduct a thorough examination of the soil in the park, and will further speak with the demolition company and report the matter to police if necessary.
“We hope the city will replace the soil as soon as possible and restore the park so that children can play there again,” a member of a local residents’ association said.