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Pooch pee blamed for traffic light pole's collapse in central Japan

The traffic light pole that collapsed in February is seen in this photo provided by Mie Prefectural Police.

TSU -- Police here have concluded that dog urine was the likely culprit behind the collapse of a traffic light pole, which was found snapped from its base in February after 23 years of use, despite its expected 50-year lifespan.

    According to Mie Prefectural Police, the traffic light was installed at a cross road in the Sakurajimacho district of the prefectural city of Suzuka in 1997. It was found collapsed on bushes at a nearby parking lot on the morning of Feb. 18 this year. No one was injured in the incident. There were apparently no problems with the quality and installation of the post.

    Mie Prefectural Police's forensic science laboratory found about 40 times the concentration of urea at the bottom of the post compared with other traffic light poles that had been installed around the same time period. Police believe it's highly possible that urea and salt in dog urine eroded the 6.5-meter-tall steel pole.

    The bottom of the traffic light pole that collapsed in February is seen. (Photo courtesy of Mie Prefectural Police)

    The site is part of a popular route for people walking their dogs. The pole has been replaced with a new one, but police have already confirmed that some canines were peeing on the newly installed pole. Police are taking measures to prevent a recurrence, such as making sure fluid cannot accumulate at the bottom of the post.

    The prefectural police's traffic regulation division pointed out, "The site is along a commuting route for a nearby elementary school, and it could have caused an accident during commute time." They added, "If they are urinated on for many years, traffic lights, which are public construction, can be eroded and collapse. We would like to ask dog owners to be aware and act accordingly such as having their pets excrete at home."

    (Japanese original by Yuka Asahina, Tsu Bureau)

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