Linkou pig farmer fined NT$6m over wastewater

"BLITHE DISREGARD’::The owner plans to appeal the fine, saying that the Agriculture Department gave his facility until September to make required improvements

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Apr 14, 2015 - Page 5

The New Taipei City Government over the weekend imposed a NT$6 million (US$191,400) fine on a pig farm that it said illegally dumped wastewater into the Linkou River (林口溪).

New Taipei City Environmental Protection Department Division director Sun Chung-wei (孫忠偉) said that it was the first time the city government had imposed the maximum fine stipulated in the Water Pollution Control Act (水汙染防治法) since the act was amended in February to include stiffer penalties.

Sun said the farm, in the special municipality’s Linkou District (林口), had allowed its water treatment system to fall into a state of disrepair that had rendered it virtually useless, and it has been discharging wastewater from an illegal outflow pipe concealed in bushes by the river for at least a year.

The farm has not complied with the city government’s order to update its wastewater treatment system, apparently over the cost such a move would require, he said.

He said that residents living near the river over the past year filed more than 30 complaints alleging the dumping of wastewater, and the city over the past year fined the farm’s proprietors seven times, amounting to about NT$1 million.

The farm’s permit allows it to raise no more than 2,200 pigs, but it has more than 3,000 now and at one time had nearly 6,000, Sun said.

The maximum fine was imposed because the establishment is unwilling to make improvements and has continued to pollute the river despite receiving guidance from the New Taipei City Agriculture Department.

The wastewater, contaminated with pig effluent, could destroy the river’s entire ecosystem, as it lowers oxygen content in the water, stifling the fish, he said.

In addition, the manure can provide the conditions for anaerobic bacteria to thrive.

“The bacteria release sulfur oxides, which turn the water black and give it a terrible odor. Eventually, the water might resemble ditch slime,” he said.

Farm owner Hung Tien-ting (洪添丁) is disputing the fine, saying that the Agriculture Department gave his facility until September to make improvements, adding that he plans to appeal.

Sun dismissed Hung’s statement, saying that the prerequisite for any establishment to receive guidance from agencies of the city government is that it must first stop causing pollution.

He said that Hung should have used alternative methods to deal with the effluent, such as collecting the wastewater and delivering it to a wastewater treatment plant to be processed, instead of continuing to pollute the environment with “blithe disregard.”

He said the farm’s permit has expired and that it is unable to apply for a new one due to the excessive number of pigs it has.

The two agencies would meet this week to discuss whether to close the farm and, if so, how to deal with the pigs, he said.