Hundreds of Taipei County residents yesterday protested against plans to create a landfill site for incinerator residue near the Chulun River
Waving banners, protesters from Sanshia township demonstrated in front of the Taipei County Government's environmental bureau, arguing that pollutants from the toxic residue collected from incinerators would contaminate the water.
"It is definitely inappropriate to establish a landfill in such a clean place," said Tsai Huang-lung (蔡黃隆), a Taipei County councilor.
About 20,000 people living in the mountains near the river rely on its water for drinking, cleaning and irrigation.
Yesterday's demonstration followed a similar protest last month when the Taipei County Government held its first meeting to review the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the site.
Local environmental officials, however, said yesterday that the proposed location was not listed as a protected area for water resources.
"Potential environmental effects on water quality will be carefully reviewed by our EIA members," said Yang Chih-hung
The landfill would cover 38.5 hectares in a remote valley in Sanshia. Officials said the builder would adopt advanced technologies from the US to ensure the quality of the landfill.
Taipei County generates 3,700 tonnes of household waste a day. Incinerators burn 3,200 tonnes a day, and the rest goes to landfill sites.
Residues from incinerators are put in a landfill in Pali township, which is expected to be full in two to three years, prompting the need for a new one.
Environmentalists said the need for special landfill sites for incinerator residue was not a problem unique to Taipei County and other areas of the country were having trouble finding suitable locations.
Although the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has encouraged local governments to build incinerators since the late 1990s, activists said, it failed to help local governments find appropriate sites to build landfills for the residues they produce.
According to Chen Jian-zhi (陳建志), director of the waste policy committee of the Green Citizens' Action Alliance, the burning-oriented waste-management policy has resulted in a low recycling rate of 14.5 percent in Taiwan.
Chen told the Taipei Times yesterday that it was time to push the EPA to focus on promoting waste reduction and recycling rather than building incinerators on the densely populated island.
"We hope the EPA can shift subsidies from projects to build new incinerators to those aiming to reduce waste," Chen said.
Anti-incinerator activists, Chen said, are planning a huge demonstration in early March in Taipei to highlight the irony of the burning-oriented waste-management policy.
Chen said that foreign support would be incorporated into the activity through existing channels, including Waste Not Asia, the first Asian transnational environmental group to focus opposition against waste incineration, and the US-based Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance, an international alliance aiming to end waste incineration.