Bottled water plant’s pollution and noise affecting farmers’ livelihoods 埔里礦泉水工廠 四風扇噪音擾民

Mon, Dec 30, 2013 - Page 11

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.

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)

南投縣埔里鎮一家佔地三千多坪的大型礦泉水工廠,遭附近農民聯名陳情指控,廠房建在農牧用地上是違建,高三、四樓的廠房阻擋日照影響作物收成,四座大型散熱風扇還會發出巨大噪音,去年還發生排放污水問題,生計、生活都受影響。

業者強調去年已向經濟部申請劃設特定地區接受輔導,尋求合法經營,針對周邊環境也會設法改善,做好敦親睦鄰。

埔里鎮公所表示,業者民國九十七年四月間利用約二百坪的建地,申請農業設施許可興建香菇寮、蓄水池,但民國一百年七月發現違規使用,要求限期改正未果,依法向縣府查報違章,同年十一月縣府農業處廢止其農業設施許可,建設處也在去年一月撤銷使用執照。

業者坦承礦泉水工廠的部分土地、建築未能合法,但已在二年前依工廠管理輔導法向經濟部申請劃定特定區,尋求合法經營的機會,並在去年五月三十一日獲審通過,成為經濟部的輔導對象,輔導期間暫免受土地管制、建築管理及工輔法相關法規裁罰,土地變更部分則依土地相關法規辦理。

南投縣府建設處工商管理科指出,經濟部提供業者的輔導期限至一○六年的六月二日,這段期間雖免受相關法規裁罰,但土地變更部分仍應依土地相關法規辦理,且不得再擴廠增建廠房、建築物及相關附屬設施。

業者表示,對於四具風扇會產生噪音、熱風,已應農民要求斷電停用,會進一步配合拆除,污水問題係去年機器的油管意外爆裂,工人清洗地板而外流,絕非故意排污,且礦泉水工廠生產期間也不會產生大量污水,至於建築物影響周邊作物日照時間,將進一步了解夏季、冬季的作物日照情形。

(自由時報記者佟振國、林明宏)