Sun, Mar 17, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Water supplies not contaminated, EPA says

HEALTH SCARE Pollution found in the water near a purification plant in northern Taiwan was not a danger to the public, the Environmental Protection Agency says

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday reassured residents in northern Taiwan that their tap water was safe following reports that pollution had been discovered near a water-purification plant .

Already on a water rotation system to conserve dwindling supplies, Taipei County residents dis-covered on Friday that the pollution, a dark liquid floating on the surface of the water, had been discovered near the Panhsin Water Purification Plant (板新淨水廠), on the border between Taipei and Taoyuan counties.

Officials at the EPA said yesterday that samples of water taken from the plant indicated that there was no danger to the public.

Environmental inspectors said that the pollution had originated in the Tahan River (大漢溪), but they have not identified its exact source.

Yesterday, EPA head Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the pollution would pose no danger to tap-water users in Taipei County.

"Results of the examination of water samples this morning suggest that the pollutants, mostly stable organic compounds, would not affect the quality of water at the plant," Hau said.

Despite fears the pollution could contaminate residents' water supplies, the water-purification plant has continued supplying water to around two million Taipei County residents since the pollution was discovered two days ago.

Officials at the Taiwan Water Supply Corp (TWSC) said that after the pollution was reported on Friday, they took emergency measures to reduce the risk of water supplies becoming contaminated, such as running ropes across the water to skim off the pollution and soaking it up with cotton.

Cheng Shean-rong (鄭顯榮), director-general of the EPA's Bureau of Water Quality Protection, said no further pollution was found during a patrol of the Tahan River yesterday morning.

Wu Sheng-jong (吳盛忠), head of the EPA's North Region Branch Inspection Bureau, told the Taipei Times that three new samples of waste water from factories in Tashi (大溪) and Yingko (鶯歌) had been taken for analysis.

"We suspect that heavy rain on Friday flushed down pollutants that had been dumped upstream a long time ago," Wu said.

Officials, however, ruled out a gasoline station in Taoyuan County, regarded by inspectors on Friday as the prime suspect, as the source of the contamination.

TWSC officials said that the water supply at the purification plant was normal and that quality met national standards.

"Users of tap water should not be worried because no pollutants entered the water-treatment process at all," TWSC Chairman Chen Chih-yi (陳志奕) said.

To ease the drought in northern Taiwan, the Central Weather Bureau early yesterday notified water-resource officials that conditions were suitable for further cloud-seeding attempts from the ground.

The air force also carried out two cloud-seeing missions yesterday by releasing dry ice at a height of 6,000m near the Feitsui Reservoir in Taipei County, the Shihmen Dam in Taoyuan County and the Paoshan Dam in Hsinchu County.

The air force said its attempts on Friday had been successful.

Water-resource officials, however, said recent rain did not alleviate the drought.

The Shihmen Dam was holding 64.4 million tonnes of water yesterday, 27.47 percent of its total capacity.

Weather forecasters said more rain was likely today.

Forecaster Chen Yi-liang (陳怡良) said that another front, expected to arrive in Taiwan on March 22, might improve the situation.

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