Chemical spill on train: Restaurant manager charged

Susukida Ryuji, the general manager of a Japanese restaurant chain, failed to notify the authorities about the leakage or clean up the spill. A nurse who sat on a train seat later suffered chemical burns.
Susukida Ryuji, the general manager of a Japanese restaurant chain, failed to notify the authorities about the leakage or clean up the spill. A nurse who sat on a train seat later suffered chemical burns.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

A nurse who sat on an MRT train seat suffered chemical burns after a previous passenger had rested a leaking jerry can of corrosive detergent on it.

Susukida Ryuji appeared in court yesterday charged with causing grievous hurt through a negligent act after he allegedly carried concentrated dishwasher fluid on a service between Marina Bay and Orchard on May 2 last year.

Court documents said the 53-year-old Japanese national, general manager of Men-ya Kaiko restaurant chain, allowed the detergent to leak over the priority seat, even though it was labelled "corrosive" and "irritant".

Nurse Wan Zahfirah Arshad, 25, later sat there and suffered burns that required her to take 20 days off work to recover.

Ryuji had allegedly realised the jerry can was leaking when he took it out of his haversack and placed it next to him. He also allegedly failed to take reasonable measures to notify the authorities about the leakage, or clean up the spill. The liquid was originally suspected to be sulphuric acid, but investigations showed it was sodium hydroxide - a strong alkali used to make soaps and detergents which dissolves easily in water. Given its corrosive nature, it can cause chemical burns.

Ryuji, who was charged last month, made his second appearance yesterday. Deputy Public Prosecutor Carene Poh sought an adjournment to reply to representations made on Ryuji's behalf by his lawyers from Rajah and Tann.

The case will be mentioned again on June 13. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000.

ELENA CHONG