A waste disposal firm in Kaohsiung has illegally dumped toxic waste on land next to a poultry farm, lawmakers and environmental groups said yesterday, raising concerns about the possibility of heavy metal pollution in duck meat.
The land is located in the city’s Daliao District (大寮), where three ponds were filled with industrial waste and some unknown substances, Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology associate professor Huang Huan-chang (黃煥彰) said.
After receiving complaints from local residents, environmentalists sampled the soil and found that it contained extremely high concentrations of heavy metals, with the zinc concentration surpassing 60,000 parts per million, 30 times the legal limit, he said.
The levels of lead, copper and chromium in the soil were also higher than allowed by the Soil Pollution Control Standards (土壤污染管制標準), he said, adding that the questionable materials might be toxic dust produced by electric arc furnaces.
The site borders a poultry farm, whose eggs and meat might have been contaminated and ingested by people nationwide, Huang added.
The council on Wednesday sampled some ducks at the farm and test results are to be published in a week, Council of Agriculture Department of Animal Industry specialist Lee Yi-chien (李宜謙) said, adding that the farm, which raises about 19,000 ducks, has been operating for more than 10 years.
Democratic Progressive Party legislators Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) and Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) demanded that the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and other agencies investigate the scope of the pollution.
It is upsetting that such illegal dumping incidents have often been discovered by civil groups instead of environmental agencies, Lin said.
The company, Tien Shan Materials Co (天山資材), has a license to process reusable furnace slag, but would be held responsible if it is found to have been dumping waste on farmland, EPA Bureau of Environmental Inspection senior technical specialist Tsai Peng-pei (蔡蓬培) said.
The bureau on Thursday collected soil samples, but it would take more than a week to finish dioxin concentration testing, bureau Southern Taiwan Office head Wang Shih-chang (王世昌) said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Industrial Development Bureau in October last year ordered the company to halt operations after it was discovered to be dumping industrial waste, Wang added.
Although vehicles transporting industrial waste have been fitted with GPS tracking devices, the EPA lacks personnel and funding to monitor their movements, Taiwan Watch Institute secretary-general Herlin Hsieh (謝和霖) said.
After confirming the makeup and the scope of the pollution, the EPA should re-examine its regulatory system and amend the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法), the groups said.
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