Tue, Jul 29, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Waste obstacle on road to new residents' home

BIG STEP Hungmaokang residents are now a bit closer to moving day as the government tries to tackle problems at the site of the new homes

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to implement a relocation plan that has been stuck for nearly two decades due to land acquisition problems, the Kaohsiung City Government yesterday launched a waste removal project in a spacious area which is slated to be the new home for more than 20,000 residents of Hungmaokang.

The problems began in 1973, when the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau planned to develop a southwestern coastal area of the city into a commercial harbor.

The existence of the Hungmaokang community -- which sits in that coastal area -- became an obstacle not only to the plan but also to the long-term development of the harbor.

After years of delays, the final solution was to move the community to 170 hectares of abandoned land that sits on the border dividing the city and Kaohsiung county.

According to city officials, a 24-hectare waste dump on the site is the first obstacle to be tackled before residents can move in.

After spending more than one year evaluating the dump, environmental officials concluded that 660,000 cubic meters of waste piled up there included waste oil tanks, construction waste, iron and steel slag, toxic waste chemical solvents and hazardous copper-tainted sludge.

Yesterday morning, officials from both local governments jointly launched the operation of a waste-removal project at the site.

"The launch means that the Hungmaokang relocation plan has already entered a new era," said Kaohsiung Secretary General Chang Chun-yen (張俊彥).

As early as the 1980s, residents of Hungmaokang complained about the deteriorating environmental quality resulting from the operation of a thermal power plant, a sewage treatment and a wharf for coal transportation near their homes.

After spending years discussing compensation and related problems with about 20,000 residents belonging to more than 8,500 families, the city government first came up with a relocation plan in 1985 -- a plan that has since been revised three times. In 1998, the revised plan was eventually approved by the Executive Yuan.

The relocation plan, however, still exist only on paper due to local opposition driven by everything from the desire for cultural conservation to the demand for more compensation.

Officials said yesterday that the environment of Hungmaokang residents' new home would be very pleasant because of well-designed public constructions and comprehensive preparation work.

According to Chang Feng-teng (張豐藤), head of the city's Environmental Protection Bureau, the new site will be filled in after the metals, plastics, and wood are extracted.

In addition, Chang said, about 10,000 cubic metric soil at the site contaminated by waste oil would be handled carefully.

"Soil contaminated by waste oil will be separated and sent to incinerators," Chang said.

Toxic waste chemical solvents and hazardous copper-tainted sludge will be packed at the scene before being sent to waste handlers, Chang said.

According to the MOTC, the Executive Yuan is considering incorporating the NT$ 18.8 billion budget needed by the relocation project into the government's plans for a three-year NT$300 billion public-works program.

Huang Ching-tern (黃清藤), director of Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau said yesterday that the preparation work would be conducted thoroughly in order to give Hungmaokang residents a comfortable new home.

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