The approval of a screw factory in Tainan’s Guantian District (官田) was procedurally flawed, and the project should be subject to another round of environmental reviews, local residents said yesterday as they launched a signature collection campaign against the project.
Tainan-based Quintain Steel Co (官田鋼鐵) proposed to repurpose a zinc-wire factory in the district to manufacture screws and bolts, and the proposal was approved on Monday last week.
The wire factory project was approved in 2001, but was not put into operation after completion due to protests, because residents were concerned that the manufacturing process could generate a large amount of highly acidic wastewater and pollute farmland and fishing ponds.
The company filed the repurposing application last year, and Tainan Environmental Protection Bureau’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee approved the project on the condition that the screw factory meet a zero liquid discharge requirement and establish an oversight committee consisting of residents and experts.
Residents filed a lawsuit against bureau director Lee Hsien-wei (李賢?) on Monday last week immediately following the project’s approval, saying the review was inappropriately carried out and non-transparent.
Dozens of residents yesterday gathered at a community center in Guantian’s Nanbu Borough (南?) to protest against the project and collect signatures to petition the city government to initiate another round of EIA reviews.
Borough Warden Lee Ching-lin (李清林) said the approval was procedurally flawed, because the EIA committee approved the project without ensuring that the two requirements would be met.
“The developer did not explain in the meetings how it could meet a zero effluent discharge requirement, but the project was still approved,” Lee said.
There are few penal consequences if the developer fails to meet the requirements, and the oversight committee should consist mostly of local residents, who would be most affected by the project, instead of allowing developers to select committee members, he added.
Lee said the repurposing proposal is a “ploy” to introduce a highly polluting production line, because the proposal included a manufacturing method to make steel mesh, which produces highly acidic waste.
“The site where the proposed screw factory is located is designated as primary farmland and is surrounded by quality farmland and fishing ponds. The project could easily contaminate soil and agricultural produce, because the factory is just beside an irrigation system,” Lee said.
“We do not understand why the company and the government want to build factories on farmland when there are vacancies in industrial parks,” he added.
“Residents successfully prevented the company from building a waste acid recycling plant in 2013, but the screw factory project again threatens residents and local ecology with acidic wastewater,” he said.
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