Tue, Aug 10, 2004 - Page 2 News List

EPA plans restoration of polluted Fengshan River

BUBBLING URGENCY A restoration plan was unveiled yesterday for the river Kaohsiung County folks call the Black Dragon, one of the nation's most polluted rivers

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite the Environmental Protection Administration's cleanup efforts, the heavily polluted Fengshan River in Kaohsiung County still has a long ways to go before it can cast off its derogatory nickname, the Black Dragon River.

PHOTO: CHAI CHING-HUA, TAIPEI TIMES

Illegal leather tanning factories along Fengshan River (鳳山溪) in Kaohsiung County will be eliminated and ensuing restoration will soon bring residents a clean riverside, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) announced yesterday.

EPA Administrator Chang Juu-en (張祖恩) yesterday attended the groundbreaking ceremony near Tatung Bridge in Fengshan City to initiate restoration of the Fengshan River.

At the ceremony, also attended by Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), Fengshan Mayor Lin San-lang (林三郎), and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yi-shih (林益世), clear water was poured into the river to symbolize the river's future vitality.

"Staff of environmental agencies at all levels will inspect illegal tanning factories in order to revive the Fengshan River," Chang said.

Originating in the mountainous areas of Kaohsiung County, the river passes through Fengshan City, population 300,000, before entering neighboring Kaohsiung City.

The commissioner said that three or four decades ago, when its water was still clean, the river was a popular place for swimmers. However, now it is notorious for being heavily polluted by household sewage and industrial wastewater.

"To make the river accessible, restoration projects will include planting trees, paving paths for recreational walkers, and building sewer systems," Yang said.

In the county, a sewage treatment plant will be completed by April next year to intercept polluted waters.

EPA officials said that for decades the waters of the 20km Fengshan River have been polluted by waste water from illegal leather tanning factories.

Since 2002, the river has been listed as one of the nation's 13 most seriously polluted rivers ranked as deserving comprehensive treatment.

According to Leu Horng-guang (呂鴻光), director-general of the EPA's Bureau of Water Quality Protection, the environmental agency carried out 140 inspections along the river last year.

As a result, three registered factories were penalized for discharging untreated wastewater, four illegal tanning factories were shut down, and two illegal wells used by tanning factories were closed.

After visiting the river yesterday, Leu said that treating the river was urgent.

"The river water I observed under the scorching sun in the south was even bubbling," Leu told the Taipei Times.

According to Leu, in 2004 and 2005 the EPA will allocate the local authority about NT$400 million to carry out restoration work along a 5km section of the river near Fengshan City.

The first stage of this work will be completed by the end of next year.

Downstream, the river crosses the border into Kaohsiung City and runs through the industrial zones of the city. It was once so heavily polluted that no fish could survive in it.

Several years ago, however, the Kaohsiung City government built a sewer system to intercept the polluted water. Currently, about 300,000 metric tons of polluted river water are diverted to a municipal sewage treatment plant daily.

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