Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Protesters say Taichung hiding pollution findings

GATEWAY:Protesters said the local government had long known about the groundwater pollution at an old airport, the site of its future Taichung Gateway Park City

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

Representatives of the Greater Taichung Administration Monitoring Alliance protest in front of the Control Yuan in Taipei yesterday against possible groundwater pollution near the closed Shuinan Airport in Greater Taichung.

Photo: CNA

Representatives of the Greater Taichung Administration Monitoring Alliance yesterday accused the local government of trying to conceal the truth about groundwater pollution near the shuttered Shuinan Airport (水湳機場) in Greater Taichung.

“Delinquent mayor should be severely punished by the Control Yuan,” alliance members chanted during the protest in front of the Control Yuan.

The group said that tests of the soil at the airport, which was shut down in 2004, showed that it was contaminated with heavy metals and electrical insulating oil. The protesters accused the local government of trying to hide the truth from people living near the area because of its plans to turn the old airport into the site of its Taichung Gateway Park City project — which will include a dome, an exhibition and convention center, and a college town.

Alliance member Gan Chen-yi (甘宸宜) said the state of pollution at the airport was contained in a report by the local environmental protection agency last year, which said the contaminated area spanned 7,648m2 and was about 5m in depth.

She said the group suspected the Greater Taichung Government knew about the pollution even earlier, as the report by the local agency was a re-inspection of the site and cited data from another report on the state of contamination done by the Environmental Protection Administration in 2009.

The alliance accused the municipal government of hiding the conditions at the airport from Greater Taichung Council so councilors would approve the Taichung Gateway Park City’s development budget for last year and this year.

When councilors questioned Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) about the case this month, Gan said Hu replied that he only found out about the pollution two or three weeks before.

The alliance added that the groundwater at the Han Xiang Aerospace Industrial Development Corp’s factory, located right next to Shuinan Airport’s runway, was verified to be contaminated by trichloroethylene — a toxic chemical compound.

“We suspect that all the groundwater in the nearby area could be contaminated, despite the [environmental protection] agency’s statement that only the water at the factory site and the soil at the airport are contaminated,” Taiwan Academy of Ecology secretary-general Tsai Chih-hao (蔡智豪) said.

According to the agency’s report for the city council in June, the trichloroethylene level in the groundwater at Situn Elementary School located near the airport reached 0.029mg/L — higher than the standards set for drinking water at 0.005mg/L. The agency notified the elementary school not to drink the water and to guard against exposure to the groundwater.

The protesters called on the municipal government “to honestly tell the public how long they have known about the pollution and how much the nearby residents have been affected by the polluted water.”

“If harm has been done to the residents, then the government should apologize and resolve the problem,” Tsai said.

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