Sat, Apr 19, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Nation’s future turned into scrap

By Gloria Hsu 徐光蓉

Today, China is the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic products, so signing the service trade agreement — thereby deregulating waste material management — at the same time as reducing the number of materials classified as hazardous waste will surely open the nation to a deluge of imported scrap.

The EPA swears daily there are already all-encompassing environmental regulations in place that provide strict checks and management systems to protect the environment and signing the pact will not have any untoward environmental effects. However, three or four decades of the government failing to enforce the law has meant that the dumping of industrial waste and wastewater emissions have gone unchecked.

It was not until the end of last year that Advanced Semiconductor Engineering and many electroplating plants were discovered to have been illegally discharging untreated industrial wastewater. The year before, more than 5,000 companies were tested for suspected violations of the EPA’s industrial waste treatment reporting system, but in the end fewer than 100 were fined. The EPA must admit that the current testing system is unfit for the purpose of preventing malpractice.

A Control Yuan investigation into the treatment of industrial waste found that “there is a high incidence of illegal disposal of industrial waste, and there are now limited options to deal with the accumulation of electric arc furnace dust and slag,” while government statistics show that treatment facilities are inadequate or running at or close to 100 percent capacity.

While ostensibly interested in trying to “promote industry” and “create new job opportunities,” the EPA has no intention of protecting the environment. Current waste management facilities rely on fudged statistics, and yet the nation is set to import large amounts of hazardous waste. It seems that the government thinks the nation’s only future lies in trading in scrap.

Gloria Hsu is a professor in National Taiwan University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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