Around 125,000 lethal doses of the toxic chemical sodium cyanide were spilled after a snow plow accident at a northern Japanese plating factory on Monday.
The snow plow crashed into a tank at the Kurosaka Plating Co. factory in Hanamaki, northern Japan, causing around five tons of liquid waste, including the toxic chemical sodium cyanide, to leak out.
Officials estimate that 125,000 lethal doses of the poison soaked into the surrounding snow in the area.
According to a factory official, just one liter of this toxic cocktail, frequently used to remove nickel plating from various surfaces, is sufficient to kill 25 people.
The snow plow belongs to Kurosaka Plating Co. and workers had been attempting to clear snow around the factory, as the region has been hit by severe winter conditions and heavy snow fall during the past week. The accident reportedly damaged a valve in the tank containing the chemicals.
Workers have cleared the contaminated snow and some of the soil underneath.
A factory official told AFP, “Fortunately, snow absorbed most of the liquid and we have been able to collect the contaminated snow … the leak has not reached a nearby river and we have not received any reports of impact on people.”
However investigations continue in order to establish whether the liquid entered reservoirs or nearby streams outside the factory grounds.