Sun, Jul 22, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Eco-groups demand farm is protected from industry

LAND RIGHTS:Environmental organizations have said that the land sold off by Taisugar Corp for a metal processing facility could damage fragile ecosystems

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A community development association in Greater Kaohsiung’s Alian District (阿蓮) and environmental protection groups yesterday called for the protection of farmland owned by Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar) and demanded that it not be developed into a metal-processing facility.

Citizens of the Earth, Taiwan (CET) said a highly polluting metal industry facility is being planned in northern Kaohsiung where Taiwan Sugar Corp’s Sinyuan Farm (新園農場) is currently located and it may pollute the 300 hectares of special agricultural land as well as 1,200 hectares of aquacultural land nearby.

A forum was held at Alian’s community recreation center yesterday by environmental protection NGOs and a local development association with the purpose of informing residents about the possible environmental impact of the proposed industrial development project.

According to the CET, 777.5 hectares of land owned by Taisugar was released in 2009 for industrial development and about 60 hectares of Sinyuan Farm has already been split up and rented out to six metal and chemical companies.

“The land has been deliberately split into allotments smaller than 10 hectares in size so they could avoid going through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process,” said Joan Tsai (蔡卉荀), a researcher at CET who added that only two companies had passed an EIA.

CET chairman Lee Ken-cheng (李根政) said that in addition to more industrial plants which are being planned at Sinyuan Farm, 150 hectares of farmland at nearby Jioujiou Farm (九鬮農場) is also to become an industrial area for the fastener industry.

Wastewater from the electroplating industry often contains heavy metals, or is heavily acidic or alkaline and causes tremendous damage to natural river ecology, Tsai said, adding that industrial development at the two farms will affect Greater Tainan’s Er-ren River (二仁溪) and Greater Kaohsiung’s Agongdian River (阿公店溪).

Potentially toxic wastewater from manufacturing plants at Sinyuan Farm will be discharged into the Sinyuan Canal (新園圳), which is the main source of irrigation water for the farms in the area, Lee said, adding it will also affect aquaculture near the Er-ren River.

“Many local residents who know about the project have expressed concern over the industrial development and are worried that it will cause air or water pollution,” Zhong Lu Borough Community Development Association chairman Yang Cheng-hsiung (楊正雄) said.

The CET urged the local government to withdraw permits and refuse development applications at the two farms and draw up a non-polluting agricultural and cultural development plan for the area. It also called on central government agencies to re-evaluate the improper release of farmland by Taisugar as well as review EIA loopholes.

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