More than 10 electroplating factories in Changhua County are suspected of discharging toxic industrial wastewater through covered pipes, and have possibly contaminating nearby farmland with heavy metal substances, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.
The agency said its Bureau of Environmental Inspection, assisted by the Changhua District Prosecutors’ Office in checking the electroplating factories on Tuesday, found substantial evidence of wastewater discharge at illegal discharge points.
The bureau said it would ask the local environmental protection bureau to order these companies to suspend operation.
According to EPA officials, inspections on the wastewater by the prosecutors’ office began after prosecutor Cheng Chih-wen (鄭智文) discovered that wastewater from the electroplating industry contained hazardous toxic substances including cyanide, chromium, hexavalent chrome, copper and nickel, while he was investigating another environmental case in September.
The prosecutors’ office said the toxic industrial wastewater was secretly discharged through covered pipes and rainwater ditches, without going through proper sewage treatment facilities, into the East-West No. 3 Canal (東西三圳) and its upstream Tachu Gutter (大竹排水溝), which are irrigation water sources for farmland in Changhua City, Homei Township (和美) and other areas.
The canal provides irrigation water to about 1,812 hectares of farmland, mainly rice paddies, the EPA said.
Research showed that about 400 hectares of farmland nationwide have been polluted by industrial production, with 230 hectares (about 60 percent) in Changhua County, the agency said, adding that farmland in Changhua is also the only farmland found to have been polluted with more than eight types of heavy metal substances exceeding the regulated levels.
The EPA yesterday again urged local governments to be strict with companies that violate EPA rules once the pollution source is confirmed, by ordering them to suspend operation and asking them to pay the illegal gains as compensation.