- Brewery blames propylene glycol for change in water colour
- Health official says no major environmental damage likely
It's the red sea, but not as you know it. Residents in Japan's southern city of Nago on the island of Okinawa awoke Tuesday to find an area of usually clear blue water had turned a gruesome shade of red.
The water changed colour after a beer plant owned by Orion Breweries Ltd sprung a leak and a coolant used to regulate the temperature of brewing equipment flowed into a nearby river.
Footage posted on local media showed the waters off Nago, famed for its beach resorts and crystal clear waters, had been dyed a deep red. The brewery blamed the chemical propylene glycol — used in the cooling process — for the colour change.
Orion apologised for "the inconvenience and concern we have caused to nearby residents and other concerned parties" and said it would take measures to prevent a recurrence of the leak, which was plugged by 9:30 a.m. local time.
The Okinawa Times newspaper cited an unnamed local health official saying that "no major impact on the environment" was expected from the leak. Propylene glycol, which is also used as a food additive and in the drug and cosmetic industries, among others, is "generally recognised as safe," according to the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
A spokesperson for Okinawa prefecture's local government said it has not confirmed further details of the leak, with the company due to brief officials on its impact later on Tuesday.