Sat, Dec 17, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Steel factory suspected of causing high dioxin levels

POLLUTION A study conducted by the EPA showed that a duck farm next to a Taiwan Steel Union plant had some of the highest levels of dioxin in Changhua County

By Jenny Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pollutants from Taiwan Steel Union Co Ltd were the most likely cause of the high levels of dioxin found in duck eggs in Changhua County, according to a report published by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday.

After the discovery in February that duck eggs from Hsienhsi Township (線西) in Changhua County contained dioxin exceeding the levels permitted by EU regulations, a joint investigation was conducted by the EPA, Department of Health and Council of Agriculture.

In late August, excess dioxin levels were also found in duck eggs in the county's Shenkang Township (伸港).

Of the nine duck farms in the county where environmental factors such as falling dust, soil, plants, animal feed and illegal gas emissions were measured, six farms were found to have excessive dioxin levels, the report said.

All the environmental factors on duck farmer Huang Chi-wen's (黃奇文) land showed excessive dioxin levels, the report said.

"Because of the similarity in characteristics between the dioxin found in duck eggs at Huang's farm and emission gases from Taiwan Steel Union Co, the environment is an obvious source of pollution," the EPA's deputy director Lin Da-hsiung (林達雄) said.

The source of the high dioxin level at the other five duck farms was less clear and requires further investigation, he said.

On a map included in the report, Huang's farm is located right behind Taiwan Steel Union Co's premises.

Young Chea-yuan (楊之遠), the director-general of the Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control, said the government would help Huang if he decides to take legal steps against Taiwan Steel Union Co..

The farms have ceased production since discovery of excess dioxin levels, with farmers living on a NT$15,000 (US$450) monthly subsidy provided by the government.

Lin said that before farmers can restart egg production, the surrounding environment needs to be cleaned up.

However, officials said that Huang's land would probably not be suitable for farming again.

Lin said the government would continue checking dioxin levels at farms around the country and "hopes to increase consumer confidence in the safety of products."

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