The Greater Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau yesterday said it has found another electroplating company in the city’s Jenwu District (仁武) that has been illegally discharging highly acidic wastewater containing more than 500 times the legally allowed amount of nickel into the Houjin River (後勁溪).
Bureau inspectors on Friday revealed that the Lian-yi Industrial Co (連益工業) has been using hidden pipes connected to the rain water sewer system to dump wastewater into the river, a discovery that was confirmed by bureau Director-General Chen Jin-de (陳金德) when he visited the company yesterday.
Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光半導體) was caught dumping toxic water into the river last week.
“The wastewater had 518 milligrams of nickel per liter [mg/L], more than 500 times the 1 mg/L limit set by regulations, meaning that Lian-yi’s wastewater is even more toxic than ASE’s, which had 4.38mg/L,” Chen said.
Furthermore, Lian-yi’s wastewater had a pH level of 2.2 and contained up to 33.3mg/L of zinc, a concentration that also exceeds the standard of 5mg/L, the bureau said.
The bureau said that out of the 65 times that it has inspected the company since 2001, Lian-yi was found to have violated environmental regulations six times, three of which involved wastewater discharge, but the electroplating firm was only reprimanded and told to meet standards within a given period of time. This time, the bureau said it will fine the company for contravening the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法) and order it to shut down.
Meanwhile, the Council of Agriculture said that testing on eight rice samples grown near the river showed that they all had acceptable levels of heavy metals.
The council’s Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) said that the Farm Irrigation Association of Greater Kaohsiung closed the river’s irrigation water channel gate on Oct. 25, adding that the water is not used for irrigation during the winter.
AFA Deputy Director Huang Mei-hua (黃美華) said that his agency took five samples of rice grown in the area and sent to public granaries, as well as three samples of rice sold to private companies for the tests.
While the results showed that all the samples had safe levels of heavy metals, the agency said it will retest the quality of the river’s water for heavy metals before the first farming season begins next year to ensure that contaminated water will not be used for irrigation.
Regarding a report last week showing that irrigation water polluted by wastewater illegally discharged by eight electroplating companies in Changhua County, the agency said that of the 327 hectares of possibly affected farmland, 45.3 hectares were confirmed to contain excessive concentrations of heavy metals between April and September, while all the rice grown in the area has been destroyed.
The 1,410 tonnes of rice cultivated in the remaining 281.7 hectares in the second season that have already been sold are being traced and 11 samples have been sent for testing, it said.