Sat, Aug 15, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Alleged dumping of furnace slag in paddies probed

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

An excavator hired by the Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation digs in a field in Tainan yesterday as part of a probe into the alleged dumping of furnace slag into rice paddies by a Tainan-based recycling company.

Photo: CNA

A recycling company last year allegedly dumped 200,000 tonnes of furnace slag in rice paddies in Tainan before leasing the paddies to farmers, resulting in tens of thousands of kilograms of rice grown in the contaminated area reaching the market.

Five company officials now face charges, authorities said yesterday.

Tainan-based recycler Ming Hsiang Hsin Co (明祥馨環保公司) allegedly buried tonnes of furnace slag in 3.9 hectares of paddies along the Jiangjun River (將軍溪), the Bureau of Investigation’s Chiayi office said.

The company covered the dump sites with soil and then rented the paddies to local farmers, the office said.

About 70,000 jin (42 tonnes) of rice was harvested from the contaminated paddies and sold in April, the office said.

The office and Tainan’s Environmental Protection Bureau on Tuesday conducted a joint inspection and excavation of the sites and found 200,000 tonnes of slag, the office said.

Five Ming Hsiang Hsin officials face charges of violating the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法) and the Business Accounting Act (商業會計法) and forgery.

However, Huang Yi-jen (黃怡仁), deputy director of the Council of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Agency’s Southern Region Branch, quoted the owner of the affected paddies as saying that only about 45,000 jin of rice was harvested, not the 70,000 jin the bureau estimated.

Paddy owner Lin Fu-shun (林富順) also presented certified test reports for the April harvest, which showed no excessive heavy metal residue had been detected in the rice, Huang said.

Ming Hsiang Hsin began operations in 2011 and was licensed by the Tainan City Government to recycle and reprocess furnace slag into raw materials for concrete and asphalt concrete, the Tainan Environmental Protection Bureau said.

The company’s records show that it had processed 400,000 tonnes of furnace slag and earned about NT$200 million (US$6.18 million) from processing the slag since then, the Bureau of Investigation’s Chiayi office said.

The office said it was still working on tracing the whereabouts of the other 200,000 tonnes of slag.

The council said that it has declared the affected paddies to be high pollution-risk farmland, and it ordered the city government to trace and inspect crops grown on the paddies. It said the crops would be destroyed if they were found to have excessive concentrations of heavy metals.

The council said its staff, along with personnel from Tainan’s agricultural and environmental agencies, yesterday took samples of soil and crops at the dump sites and farmland within a 500m radius of the sites.

It added that the Agriculture and Food Agency had conducted 24 random inspections of Tainan farmland considered to be of high pollution risk over the past three years and no irregularities had been reported.

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