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Ten factories found dumping wastewater in Changhua
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-12 05:32 PM
Authorities in He-mei Township of Changhua County say they have uncovered a buried pipeline that ten different factories in the area were using to secretly discharge wastewater that has contaminated at least 1,800 hectares of farmland in the Changhua City area. Thursday morning the Changhua District Prosecutors Office set bail for eight persons at NT$200,000 each as investigation into the case continues.

Personnel from the Prosecutors Office accompanied inspectors from the county Environmental Protection Bureau as they used ground-penetrating radar to track the path of a system of pipes laid between factories in the area and local creeks. They have uncovered more than a kilometer of underground lines and are pressing on to find whether there are more pipes and more companies involved in the dumping scheme.

Ten companies alleged to have participated in discharging toxic wastes are all engaged in electroplating work. Changhua County Chief Prosecutor Huang Chih-yung said that prosecutors had questioned officials and employees of the ten companies Wednesday and charged several individuals with releasing poisonous substances harmful to human health. Eight people are being held in relation to the charges to prevent them from colluding on stories and destroying evidence.

The factories have allegedly been discharging untreated wastewater into the Dazhu Drainage Channel, the East-West Number Two Channel and Fu-ma Channel for a number of years. Prosecutors believe that the companies have water treatment facilities on their properties but have chosen not to treat the wastewater, instead laying underground pipe to carry the discharges away from their production facilities.

"The wastewater is green sometimes and brownish yellow sometimes, and fish die straight-off if you toss them into the water," says Cheng Chih-wen, a contractor who has worked with environmental officials for six months on various cases in the area. They have donned waterproof gear to search for the outlets of the underground pipe system and dipped fish into the water to test it, noting that few of the fish survived very long.

Huang Chih-yung says that in the past, environmental agencies have imposed fines on the industries in the area, but that has had no effect in stopping the dumping. Prosecutors say the toxic substances found in the discharged water include cyanide, hexavalent chromium, chromium, copper, nickel and other elements. Cyanide and hexavalent chromium are both highly toxic and hazardous to human health and can cause cancer, thus prosecutors have decided to charge the suspects with releasing poisons and harmful substances in accordance with Section 190 of the Criminal Code, which carries a sentence of a maximum of seven years in jail.

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