Sun, Mar 24, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Waste handlers facing hard times

CLARION CALL Cleanaway Taiwan Ltd says that it is imperative for the government to effectively police the handling of hazardous industrial waste, for the sake of the environment and for the financial health of Taiwan's few licensed waste handlers

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Industrial waste handlers yesterday called on the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to carry out stricter audits of industrial waste in order to ensure their financial survival and to prevent illegal dumping.

Cleanaway Taiwan Ltd, which received a license from the EPA in 1992, is the foremost industrial waste handler in Taiwan. With a licensed treatment capacity of 15,250 tonnes of industrial waste per month, the company currently operates at only one-tenth of its capacity due to a downsized market brought on by economic recession.

Cleanaway Taiwan is looking for new business opportunities linked to its recently completed landfill, which covers four hectares of land in Kangshan township (岡山), Kaohsiung County. The new landfill was built for dumping solidified, detoxified industrial waste.

Ken Tsai (蔡仁正), sales and marketing manager for Cleanaway Kang Lien Co Ltd (岡聯可寧衛), a joint venture of Cleanaway Taiwan Ltd, told the Taipei Times that the amount of waste his company handles has been declining because many of his clients have either gone bankrupt or shifted operations overseas.

"We strongly recommend the EPA carry out stricter auditing to monitor the movement of all industrial waste. This will ensure that none is dumped illegally by dishonest waste handlers," Tsai said.

According to figures released by the EPA last month, Taiwan generates 1.5 million tonnes of industrial waste annually, but the agency was only able to track 80 percent of the total.

Many of Taiwan's environmental disasters are linked to the secret dumping of industrial waste, particularly hazardous materials. One the most notorious catastrophes occurred in July 2000, when more than 100 tonnes of toxic chemical solvents were discharged by illegal waste handlers into the Chishan River (旗山溪) in Kaohsiung County, polluting the drinking water of three million residents.

Currently, more than 170 known illegal dump sites are awaiting decontamination, among them 15 classified as heavily polluted.

Cleanaway Taiwan Ltd is one of three licensed industrial waste handlers.

Tsai said that the company's charge for collecting, treating and storing waste contaminated by heavy metals -- such as chromium, cadmium, lead, copper and mercury -- ranges from NT$10,000 to NT$16,000 per tonne.

Alan Tao (陶正倫), president of Cleanaway Kang Lien, said that treating domestically-generated hazardous industrial waste was the company's priority, although he said he was licensed to export it if necessary.

"That's why we need world-class landfills for storing industrial waste," Tao said.

David Ife, senior principal of URS Australia Pty Ltd, said that the construction of the company's first landfill was in compliance with globally accepted standards. Cleanaway Taiwan is currently building another landfill to store stabilized hazardous industrial waste.

"Both [landfills] are constructed with a dual case liner of 2mm HDPE [High Density Polyethylene]. This exceeds requirements not only in Taiwan but also in advanced countries, such as the US," Ife said.

Wu Ruei-chi (吳瑞麒), a specialist at Kaohsiung County's Environmental Protection Department, said that the government has paid much attention to groundwater monitoring results for the company's first landfill for industrial waste and that the department was satisfied so far.

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