Thu, Jul 22, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Pollution angers fishermen

SEWERAGE A Taipei City Government official said he would help fishermen apply for compensation, then said the onus was on them to find evidence of wrongdoing

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Dumping reeking oysters and clams in front of Taipei Sewerage Office officials, hundreds of Tamsui fishermen yesterday demanded the Taipei City Government compensate them for sewerage discharged into the Tamsui River since last Friday.

"All the fish died after the filth got into the water -- fishermen are going to starve to death," said Chiang Chun-kuei (江春貴), chief of the Tamsui Fishermen's Association, who yesterday led hundreds of colleagues in a protest against what they called negligence on the part of the Taipei Sewerage Office.

The office is responsible for the Shizitou Pumping Station in Wuku township, Taipei County, which broke down last Friday after being struck by lightning. More than 3 million tonnes of household sewage was then discharged into the river.

The Bureau of Public Works said that the task had been more difficult than expected, but that the station was expected to resume functioning today.

The station is designed to transfer about 1.2 million tonnes of household sewage every day to a treatment plant in adjacent Pali township. The treated waste water is then discharged into the Taiwan Strait.

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Environmental Protection fined the office NT$300,000 for negligence. The office responded by saying it would appeal the fine.

Office deputy director Lin Chun-hsiung (林俊雄) apologized to the assembled fishermen, and added that the office would help them to apply for compensation. He also promised that the pumping station would be operational today.

But Lin also told the fishermen that to receive compensation they would have to find concrete evidence that the problem was caused by human error. He added that the pollution had not had much of an impact on marine products.

Lin's words angered some of the fishermen, and one dumped a bucket of stinking oysters and clams in front of him.

"If you have the guts to eat this seafood, then we won't ask for anything more," several fishermen yelled.

Chiang said that it was now harvest time for oysters and sand clams and that the filthy water had caused severe damage to their livelihoods.

He said the government should immediately distribute an emergency subsidy to the fishermen to help them through their predicament. Otherwise, he warned, they would hold a large-scale demonstration.

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