The New Taipei City Government over the weekend imposed a NT$6 million (US$191,400) fine on a pig farm that it said illegally dumped wastewater into the Linkou River (林口溪).
New Taipei City Environmental Protection Department Division director Sun Chung-wei (孫忠偉) said that it was the first time the city government had imposed the maximum fine stipulated in the Water Pollution Control Act (水汙染防治法) since the act was amended in February to include stiffer penalties.
Sun said the farm, in the special municipality’s Linkou District (林口), had allowed its water treatment system to fall into a state of disrepair that had rendered it virtually useless, and it has been discharging wastewater from an illegal outflow pipe concealed in bushes by the river for at least a year.
The farm has not complied with the city government’s order to update its wastewater treatment system, apparently over the cost such a move would require, he said.
He said that residents living near the river over the past year filed more than 30 complaints alleging the dumping of wastewater, and the city over the past year fined the farm’s proprietors seven times, amounting to about NT$1 million.
The farm’s permit allows it to raise no more than 2,200 pigs, but it has more than 3,000 now and at one time had nearly 6,000, Sun said.
The maximum fine was imposed because the establishment is unwilling to make improvements and has continued to pollute the river despite receiving guidance from the New Taipei City Agriculture Department.
The wastewater, contaminated with pig effluent, could destroy the river’s entire ecosystem, as it lowers oxygen content in the water, stifling the fish, he said.
In addition, the manure can provide the conditions for anaerobic bacteria to thrive.
“The bacteria release sulfur oxides, which turn the water black and give it a terrible odor. Eventually, the water might resemble ditch slime,” he said.
Farm owner Hung Tien-ting (洪添丁) is disputing the fine, saying that the Agriculture Department gave his facility until September to make improvements, adding that he plans to appeal.
Sun dismissed Hung’s statement, saying that the prerequisite for any establishment to receive guidance from agencies of the city government is that it must first stop causing pollution.
He said that Hung should have used alternative methods to deal with the effluent, such as collecting the wastewater and delivering it to a wastewater treatment plant to be processed, instead of continuing to pollute the environment with “blithe disregard.”
He said the farm’s permit has expired and that it is unable to apply for a new one due to the excessive number of pigs it has.
The two agencies would meet this week to discuss whether to close the farm and, if so, how to deal with the pigs, he said.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
NEW CASE REPORTED: A man who returned from South Africa on a flight with the nation’s 460th and 461st cases has now tested positive for the disease The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that there is no need to test all arrivals to the nation for COVID-19, a policy the Executive Yuan supports. The center reported one new imported case, bringing the nation’s tally of confirmed cases to 477. The new case is a Taiwanese man in his 60s who on July 25 returned from South Africa, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the CECC’s spokesman. The man had returned to Taiwan on the same flight as cases Nos. 460 and 461, reported on July 27, Chuang said. On July 24,
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan