Wed, Jun 23, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Rat-poison bags found close to reservoir's inlets

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Scientists are investigating after a farmer discovered 85 packs of rat poison close to the water intake pipes of Kinmen County's Chinsha Reservoir.

Water samples collected from the reservoir were sent to the Environmental Analysis Laboratory yesterday, and results are expected today, according to the Environmental Protection Administration.

The farmer found the 200g packs of Flocoumafen, a commonly-used rat poison, in Kuang-chien Creek, from which the Kinmen County Water Company takes its water. Two more bags, weighing 5kg each, were later found along the creek.

However, environmental officials did not deal with the case until Monday. Although local environmental officials said an investigation on Monday showed that the poison had not entered the reservoir, Kinmen residents were outraged.

Officials at the Water Re-sources Agency said that the incident posed no danger, since the reservoir had stopped supplying water to the public last month.

"We've informed the administrators of all reservoirs nationwide to prevent illegal dumping in rivers upstream from their intakes," Water Resources Agency Director-General Chen Shen-hsien (陳伸賢) said.

The Environmental Protection Administration yesterday requested several samples of the reservoir's water for further examination.

Yuan Shaw-ying (袁紹英), the deputy director-general of the Bureau of Environmental Sanitation and Toxic Chemical Control, yesterday urged Kinmen residents to stay calm, as Flocoumafen is not readily soluble in water.

"Our preliminary investigation suggests that the water stored in the reservoir remains normal," Yuan said.

However, the Environmental Protection Administration still needs results from the Environmental Analysis Laboratory as solid proof of the safety of water in the reservoir, Yuan said.

According to Kinmen County officials, more than 8,000kg of Flocoumafen was purchased based on a Council of Agriculture recommendation in 2002. All the poison has been distributed to farmers.

Kinmen County Commissioner Lee Juh-feng (李炷烽) said prosecutors have initiated a comprehensive investigation into the incident.

Lee said that the batch number on the bags would be a useful clue to finding the person responsible.

The Environmental Protection Administration said yesterday that it remains unclear whether the illegal dumping of the rat poison polluted the soil, and that further analysis had to be carried out.

Kinmen County Water Company president Weng Tzi-pao (翁自保) said yesterday that the company's analysis showed that the creek's water quality remained unaffected.

The company yesterday began pumping at least 300 tonnes of water from the creek into the sea to restore consumer confidence. Workers setting up the pumping facilities discovered three more 200g packs of 200g Flocoumafen yesterday.

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