Dutch customs officers yesterday impounded 1.3 million PlayStations and 800,000 accessory packs worth over 180 million Euro ($160.25 million) after environmental protection inspectors discovered they were a potential threat to the environment.
The PSOne consoles and packs were bundled with cables which the inspectors found to contain up to 20 times as much cadmium as is deemed safe. The heavy metal isn't immediately toxic, but if sufficient quantities build up in the body over time, it can lead to kidney damage.
For this reason, European Union environmental protection regulations place strict limits on the amount of cadmium a product may contain - it should account for no more than 0.01 per cent of the product's composition. When products are thrown away, the metal may leak out and into the environment, potentially entering the food chain.
Sony said in a statement that it will replace the impounded cables with cadmium-free components. That will allow it to begin limited shipments of PSOnes by the middle of December.
However, the company said it will not replace cadmium-containing cables that have already been sold to consumers. Nor will it cease to ship such parts to countries with less stringent environmental protection laws.
Sony would not say how much this will cost the company, in terms up either up-front expenditure or lost pre-Christmas sales. ®