Thu, Oct 02, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chinese batteries contaminate soil

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

More than 2,000 tonnes of China-made dry-cell batteries containing a high level of heavy metals enter Taiwan annually, seriously contaminating the environment, according to legislators and environmentalists yesterday.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsiung (徐中雄) held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan, accusing the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) of malfeasance by not thoroughly inspecting batteries imported from China.

Assisted by the Taipei-based Environmental Quality Protection Foundation, Hsu investigated the distribution pattern of China-made batteries sold in Taiwan, and discovered that they are mostly sold in small stores and in night markets.

Hsu purchased some of the batteries in Taipei and Keelung and submitted them for chemical analysis to two labs certified by the EPA.

"Results suggest that levels of heavy-metals in China-made batteries are much higher than national standards," Hsu said.

"Taiwan's government should emulate the EU, which has banned the import, production and sale of household batteries that have a mercury level exceeding 5ppm," Eric Liou (劉銘龍), secretary-general of the foundation, said at the press conference.

Although existing regulations state the mercury level contained in a household battery should not exceed 5ppm, Liou said. Violators must pay four times the recycling fees, he said.

Liou said the low recycling rate in 2001 -- 6.3 percent -- means that more than 9,000 tonnes of wasted dry-cell batteries were burned in incinerators or buried in landfills. Last year, the recycling rate increased to 10.3 percent.

In response, EPA officials said yesterday that the recycling rate could be increased to 15 percent by the end of this year. EPA head Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) last year promised to increased the rate up to 30 percent by the end of this year. Statistics showing the recycling rate in the first third of this year, however, was only 10.5 percent.

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