Activists protest Changhua land reclamation project

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Jun 08, 2013 - Page 4

Environmental activists said yesterday that a land reclamation project is not suited for the Changhua Coastal Industrial Park (彰濱工業區), as the government’s reports have already shown that groundwater in the area contains high levels of arsenic.

The group made the remarks at a public hearing held yesterday at the legislature in Taipei that aimed to address public concern about the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ plan to use industrial waste, such as basic oxygen furnace (BOF) slag and coal ash as landfill material, which could contaminate the area’s groundwater and negatively affect the health of local residents.

The Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union said a land reclamation project creating 353 hectares of land using BOF slag and coal ash as landfill material passed an Environmental Impact Assessment in 2010.

However, now with the ministry’s Industrial Development Bureau is proposing another 19.7 hectares of land be reclaimed with BOF slag, the group said it is concerned that heavy metal pollution would spread to nearby wetlands, farms, fish farms and contaminate drinking water.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) said the bureau’s own report in 2010 stated that levels of arsenic, considered carcinogenic, in the groundwater were found to exceed drinking water quality standards by as much as seven times.

The report also showed that groundwater near the coast can flow from the industrial park toward the inland areas, so it could contaminate the groundwater in other areas, Liu said.

He said that the majority of residents still rely on groundwater as their main source of drinking water, so the government should stop the land reclamation project.

Several Greater Kaohsiung residents who live near the South Star Plan area said the government has not effectively monitored landfill material deposited in the area in the past 20 years, leading to medical waste being discovered in the area earlier this year and heavy metal contamination being found in ocean sediment.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator and former Environmental Protection Administration deputy minister Chiu Wen-yen (邱文彥) said he is concerned about the location of the land reclamation, "because unlike Tokyo Bay, which is surrounded by land, Changhua faces the open sea and is hit by stronger waves. If the diffusion effect of seawater is not good enough, the fish farming industry along the coast may be affected."

"We should carefully and comprehensively review this policy, so we don’t end up creating even more problems," he said.