Environmentalists call on EPA to reject land project

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - Page 4

Environmental activists from Changhua County gathered in front of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday, urging it to reject the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ (MOEA) industrial land reclamation project near the Changhua Coastal Industrial Park.

The activists, who represented several civic groups, said that the government had already rejected Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co’s plans to build a naphtha cracker in the county, to protect the area’s important wetlands, so it should not approve the ministry’s proposal to reclaim land using basic oxygen furnace slag and coal ash.

Chang Shu-fen (張淑芬), representing a women’s health group, said that most of the county’s residents still drink groundwater, but if furnace slag and coal ash are used for land reclamation, no one can guarantee that hazardous substances would not contaminate the water supply, especially since the area’s arenaceous soil is highly permeable.

Changhua County Environmental Protection Union secretary-general Shih Yueh-ying (施月英) said “the pH value of basic oxygen furnace slag is between 12 and 13, meaning it is a strong alkali, and if it flows into the ocean it would harm the marine environment.”

There are heavy metals and dioxins in furnace slag and coal ash, which could end up being ingested by people through the food chain if the toxic substances have contaminated the groundwater used in aquaculture, she added.

Taiwan Water Conservation Alliance spokesperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said information provided by the ministry about the permeability of the soil in the area is insufficient, but other research reports about the soil along Changhua’s coastline showed that the permeability near the area is not appropriate for land reclamation.

Saying the potential risks of the project are too high, they urged the Environmental Protection Administration to reject the ministry’s proposal.