Sun, Aug 13, 2017 - Page 3 News List

EPA to use remedial fund to excavate polluted farmland

FALSE ALLEGATIONS?The agency also said its investigation had shown Taoyuan farmland had not been polluted by a waste processing plant’s runoff

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

About 515 hectares of the nation’s farmland, mostly in Taoyuan, Changhua County, Taichung and Kaohsiung, were polluted by heavy metals, an Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) official said on Friday.

“Over 90 percent of the farmland pollution was caused by wastewater,” Soil and Groundwater Remediation Fund Section Chief Chen Yi-hsin (陳以新) said.

Of the nation’s 800,000 hectares of farmland, the agency had investigated 21,000 hectares of potentially polluted areas since 2010 and found 515 hectares to be highly polluted by heavy metals, Chen said.

The EPA is using its remediation fund to remedy the 515 hectares of polluted land, while it will look for the perpetrators and seek recompense from them, he said, adding that the remediation work is to take from two to four years.

“Most of the pollutants in farm soil are copper and zinc substances emitted in the discharge of surface coating, circuit boards and electroplating industries,” he said.

Most of Taoyuan’s pollution was in the Nankan River (南崁溪) basin, where many big manufacturers of circuit boards are located upstream, while Changhua County’s northern region and Taichung’s Dali District (大里) were polluted by discharge from hardware and surface coating factories, Chen said, adding that Kaohsiung saw less clustering of those facilities.

“Most metal pollution settled into the soil a long time ago, as metal pollutants remain in the soil almost forever unless they are washed away by big floods,” he said.

To treat polluted land, the EPA is to scoop out the tainted soil and refill areas with new soil and fertilizers, Chen said.

Meanwhile, the toxic rice found in the farmland across Taoyuan’s Lujhu (蘆竹) and Dayuan (大園) districts last month did not come from the now-defunct Shenmei Pond (滲眉埤), the city’s Department of Environmental Protection section chief Yeh Meng-fen (葉孟芬) said yesterday.

The farm was polluted by water from the Hsutso sewer (徐厝排水), which introduced water from the Nankan River, she said.

“Many local sewers did not separate irrigation water from industrial effluent,” she said. “Most irrigation systems are managed by the Department of Irrigation and Engineering, but a few farmers might introduce water by themselves.”

The two departments would work together to look for pollution sources, she added.

After further investigation, the polluted area was reduced from the estimated 5 hectares to 4.5 hectares, with copper and zinc substances as the major pollutants, the department said in a statement on Thursday.

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