Hundreds of Taoyuan County residents protested at the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday, demanding that it revoke a resolution allowing two flat-panel manufacturers to discharge wastewater into the Laojie River (老街溪).
The 36.7km long river flows through Longtan Township (龍潭), Pingjhen City (平鎮), Jhongli City (中壢) and Dayuan Township (大園) in Taoyuan County.
The river has been the focus of media attention recently because AU Optronics (AUO) and Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) will soon be allowed to discharge wastewater into the Laojie River, following a resolution made at the EPA’s Environmental Impact Assessment Committee in 2009.
Located in Longtan, the two flat-panel firms originally discharged wastewater into the Siaoli River (霄裡溪) in Hsinchu County. The resolution allowed the companies to switch the discharge of wastewater to the Laojie River instead.
Hoever, the Taoyuan County Government has yet to approve the two companies’ applications to discharge wastewater. The Hsinchu County Government requested the EPA to resolve the dispute between the counties as its permits granted to the two companies expire either this year or next year.
Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) indicated in the committee meeting last month that the central government was able to grant the permits if the county refused to do so.
Protestors from Longtan, Pingjhen, Jhongli and Dayuan yesterday asked the agency to revoke the resolution and to apologize to all the county’s residents.
Lu Yu-ling (呂玉玲), executive director of the Saving Laojie River Actions Alliance, said wastewater discharged by the two companies into the Siaoli River has contaminated water used to irrigate farmland.
She said the white rice grown along the river has been found to contain levels of mercury exceeding the government standard.
“The solution is that the CPT and AUO must be asked to follow the government standard when discharging wastewater,” Lu said
Several borough chiefs from the area said the county has about 1,000 hectares of farmland and approximately half of them are irrigated using water drawn from Laojie River.
Unless the companies can prove their wastewater is not contaminated, residents oppose allowing them to discharge the water into the Laojie River.