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Dioxin confirmed as culprit of environment trouble in Miyako

Date Posted: 2002-05-17

An investigation to the source of bad smell emitting from and industrial waste incinerator facility in a rural village of Ohura in Miyako Island has revealed that the facility is letting out more than twice the accepted norm of dioxin.

Local residents have complained of problems, such as bad smell causing headache and vomiting ever since the facility was restarted after it caught a fire in November. The facility is owned and operated by Hirara City. Last month the city officials gave local residents free face masks to counter the ill effects while the investigation was incomplete.

The investigation found that the level of dioxin in the area on some days had approached levels that are considered near lethal for humans. Investigators also caution that as the dioxin may have entered local streams, it may have reached the ocean and contaminated fish. The dioxin concentrates in fish that eats contaminated plankton and thus poses a hazard to humans who eat the fish.

As a result of the investigation, prefecture and local officials have started health checks of all 162 local residents, and have assigned three doctors from Miyako Hospital to the task. Officials say that it will take another month before results of the health checks will be ready. Meanwhile, local residents wonder why it took six months before anybody took any action and for the health checks to start.

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