Several civic environmental groups protested the policy of land reclamation using “safe waste material” during a public hearing held at the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) Environmental Inspection Bureau in Greater Taichung yesterday, saying that it would cause heavy metal contamination of sea water.
The groups, including the Taiwan Water Conservation Alliance and Changhua County Environmental Protection Union, said that according to data on the South Star Plan (南星計畫) — a project using industrial waste for land reclamation in Greater Kaohsiung’s Siaogang District (小港) — sediment from the ocean in the area was contaminated with heavy metal substances.
They said the levels of heavy metals, including copper, lead, mercury and zinc, found in samples of marine sediments were more than 200 times higher than at the start of the project, and the levels of mercury, lead and arsenic were found to be above regulated limits.
The groups also expressed their concern that the use of industrial waste, such as furnace slag and coal ash, in a land reclamation project in Greater Taichung may contaminate the area with heavy metals and harm the aquaculture industry.
“With the levels of heavy metal substances increasing dramatically, how are we supposed to feel safe buying fish for cooking?” said Chang Shu-fen (張淑芬), a representative of a women’s health group in Chuanghua.
The groups urged the administration to clean the area and stop land reclamation efforts.
Department of Waste Management head Wu Tien-chi (吳天基) said the public hearing was held to communicate the policy with the public, not to discuss specific cases, and that the administration would gather feedback from the public for further discussion.
In addition, public hearings would be held in northern, central and southern Taiwan, to gather more feedback and make the policy more comprehensive, he said.