Local farmers living near a large-scale bottled water factory situated on more than 3,000 ping (approximately 10km2) of land in Nantou County’s Puli Township have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company running the factory, accusing it of breaking building laws by building on farmland. The farmers are also suing the company because the three to four-story tall building blocks the sun, which negatively affects harvests. They also say that the building’s four huge ventilation fans make a lot of noise. Last year there was also an issue with toxic wastewater being discharged from the factory. All of these things are taking a toll on the farmers’ lives and livelihood.
The company says that last year it applied for assistance from the Ministry of Economic Affairs for special land zoning rights in an attempt to operate legally. The company says that it will try to come up with ways to improve its impact on the environment in the area and work on being a better neighbor.
The Puli Township Office says that in April 2008 the company was using approximately 200 ping of land zoned for building use and applied for permits to build agricultural facilities, including a mushroom farm and a cistern. In July 2011, however, it was discovered that land was being used in violation of regualtions. The office demanded that the situation be amended to no avail, and reported the violation to the county government. In November that year the county government’s Agriculture Department revoked the company’s agriculture permit and the Economic Affairs Department canceled the company’s building permit in January last year.
The company admits that some of the land and buildings where the factory stands are not legal, adding that two years ago it applied with the ministry to have the land rezoned according to the Factory Management Act to have a chance to operate legally. The company’s request was accepted on May 31 last year, which is when it started receiving assistance from the ministry. While the company is receiving assistance, it is exempt from being fined for violating land restrictions, building management regulations or the act. Usage of part of the land is officially being changed in accordance with relevant land laws, the company says.
1. ventilation n.
通風 (tong1 feng1)
例: The ventilation in this room is horrible. You should install an air conditioner.
2. impact n.
影響 (ying2 xiang3)
例: The book had a huge impact on society in the 1940s.
3. exempt v.
免除；豁免 (mian3 chu2; huo4 mian3)
例: Just because you donate money to charities doesn’t mean you are exempt from paying taxes.
The Business Management Section of the Nantou County Government’s Economic Affairs Department says that the ministry will provide assistance to the company until June 2, 2017, and that although the company is exempt from penalties under applicable laws, the application to nominally change its land use must still be made in accordance with the relevant land laws. The company is not allowed to expand its factory, buildings or other facilities on the land, the section says.
Regarding the noise and hot air produced by its four ventilation fans, the company says that it has taken into consideration the farmers’ complaints and shut off electricity, stopped using the fans and plans to get rid of them. The issue with contaminated water last year was said to be caused by a busted oil pipe, and the wastewater leaked when workers were cleaning the floor, the company says, adding that the pollution was not intentional, and that when the factory is operating it does not produce large quantities of polluted water. The company also says that it will look into the situation about the building affecting harvests due to blocking sunlight and try to better understand how harvests and sunlight interact in the summer and winter.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)