Daiseki MCR received 2-weeks business-suspension order in mid-October – Background and context
A lead refining company, Daiseki MCR (Headquarter: Utsunomiya, Tochigi) had suspended the operation of its Hiraide plant for 2 weeks from October 13, 2015 because Utsunomiya city had issued a 2–week business suspension order to the company in mid –October due to the violation of the Water Pollution Control Act. The company is a subsidiary of Daiseki Co., which is listed on the first section of Tokyo Stock Exchange.
As neither Daiseki MCR nor Utsunomiya city announced the fact, it has been little known by the people within the industry including the customers.
The business-suspension order was issued after the on-site inspection conducted to Hiraide plant by the Utsunomiya city in September. The plant has an exhaust gas cleaning system called scrubber which is categorized as a specified facility by the Water Pollution Control Act. Instead of announcing the order officially, the city informed it of only Daiseki and part of local residents.
The possibility of Daiseki MCR’s lead contamination has been reported in some media for the past 4 years. Daiseki continued to say, “It’s not categorized into the specified facility by the Water Pollution Control Act.” But, the situation changed drastically after the city recognized Hiraide plant as a “specified facility” because it has a scrubber. Scrubber is a facility to remove harmful substances such as sulfur gas generated in dismantling lead battery scrap.
According to an expert, Mr. Shoichi Kamisuna, vice president of the NPO, Geo-Polution Control Agency, Japan, “Of course, it was a problem that Utsunomiya city didn’t find it even as they had conducted on-site inspection in Daiseki MCR many times. But, it’s a bigger problem that the company didn’t report the equipment to the city.”
Hiraide plant installed the scrubber in 2009.
Mr. Kamisuna said, “Gas is generated when dismantling batteries. In a terrible case, it’s possible to cause lead poisoning. So, the Labor Standards Supervision Office instructed the company 6 years ago to dismantle batteries in a big space or to take measures against exhaust gas. Then, Daiseki MCR decided to introduce a scrubber. The company reported it to the Labor Standards Supervision Office, but not to the city. That means that the company did business with the specified facility for 6 years without permission.”
Daiseki MCR replied to a press person who has covered a story on this issue, “We reported the installment of the scrubber to the Labor Standards Supervision Office and considered it enough.” (quoted from the January, 2016 issue of MagazineX)
However, Daiseki as an eco-friendly and listed company on the first section of Tokyo Stock Exchange, cannot get away with it, saying they didn’t know to report the specified facility to the city.
The fact was discussed at the Utsunomiya city council meeting.
An assembly member, Eizo Kuboi asked the questions about the case on June 23 and December 7 this year at the city council meetings.
The sessions are available on the website of Utsunomiya city council meeting.
Mr. Kamisuna said, “I didn’t understand why the city didn’t make public such a serious issue (business suspension in mid-October). And, why the local media didn’t cover the issue? I feel something is off. Why the city didn’t move as they discussed about it at the city council meeting in June.”
Hiraide plant of Daiseki MCR now operates as usual, but it should have announced the fact that it hadn’t reported its specified facility to the city and had received an order of business suspension, in terms of compliance as a subsidiary of Daiseki, which is a major company listed on the first section of Tokyo Stock Exchange.
（Edited By O.Sasaki）