The Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) said that it has acquired photographic evidence that the environmental impact assessment for the new landfill built by Young Yang Environmental Industry Corporation (永揚環保事業有限公司) in Dungshan County, Tainan, had been falsified.
According to the TEPU, aerial photographs taken by the Council of Agriculture (COA) back up local landowners' claims that the access road to the dumping site was not pre-existing as asserted by Young Yang, but completed as recently as 2002. The TEPU alleges corruption on the part of the environmental assessment committee members and has filed charges with the Tainan district prosecutor's office suing the committee as well as the COA.
"We landowners had no inkling that there was going to be a road there until it appeared around 2001," said Chen (陳顯茂), the head of Lingnan Village where the dump is situated. "This road runs through my land but the Council of Agriculture did not seek my approval."
The 20th statute of the non-urban land development assessment operating procedures says that new dump sites must have a pre-existing road in order to be approved. A pre-existing road is defined as one that has been built for at least ten years.
At its press conference yesterday, the TEPU displayed archive aerial photographs of the dump site obtained from the COA. A photograph from 2001 showed the access road connecting state road south 99 to the dump site. The road did not appear on the corresponding photograph from 1997.
"These are file photographs we purchased from the Council of Agriculture for NT$140 each," said former TEPU chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華), "we purchased the maps for all the years available and the road only appeared from 2001 onwards."
The TEPU also showed reporters a picture of a stone plaque on the site of the road that said "Completed October 91 , Council of Agriculture soil and water conservation bureau fourth engineering office."
"This is just the latest falsehood we have uncovered in Young Yang's environmental impact assessment. It's hard to believe that the company's application for the dump site could have been approved by a environmental assessment committee that was acting in good faith," said TEPU chairwoman Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉).
According to Hsu, the TEPU has filed falsification of documents charges against all the members of the environmental assessment committee that approved the dump site, including Mark Chen (陳唐山), the current secretary-general of the National Security Council. Mark Chen was serving as Tainan county commissioner as well as a member of the environmental assessment committee at the time of the dump's approval.
"Look at the picture," said Lin, "the area is full of water sources, including the one for the Wusanto Dam. The dump will pollute water in the Wusanto Dam which supplies water to Tainan City and county as well as parts of Chiayi."
Lin said the dump could receive more than a thousand tonnes of waste every day for decades.
The Tainan County bureau of environmental protection refused to comment on the TEPU's charges. A press statement released by the bureau on March 1 called the TEPU's charges an "obvious misunderstanding."
"As for the fears that the dump site is structurally unsound and could pollute groundwater, the Bureau has formed an supervisory committee to address the matter," said the press release. "For now, the request from Young Yang to begin operation of the site on a test basis would be delayed."