Minamata disease, sometimes referred to as Chisso-Minamata disease, is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning.
Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan in 1956. It was caused by the release of methyl mercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation's chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. This highly toxic chemical bioaccumulated in shellfish and fish in Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea, which when eaten by the local populace resulted in mercury poisoning.
While cat, dog, pig and human deaths continued over more than 30 years, the government and company did little to prevent the pollution.
As of March 2001, 2,265 victims had been officially recognised and over 10,000 had received financial compensation from Chisso Corpo. By 2004, Chisso had paid $86 million in compensation, and in the same year was ordered to clean up its contamination.