Nearly 22,566 tonnes of garbage were collected from rivers nationwide in the first five months of this year, with bags of trash being the most common human-made waste, the Environmental Protection Administration said yesterday, as it steps up measures for river cleanups.
At a news conference in Taipei, the Department of Water Quality Protection released statistics about river cleanups and its plans to fight water pollution.
Previously, an average of 13,000 tonnes of garbage was gathered from rivers each year, but that was easily surpassed from Jan. 1 to Wednesday last week as the department worked with other government agencies on river cleanups, agency Director-General Yen Hsu-ming (顏旭明) said.
Most garbage was natural waste, such as silt, water hyacinths, weeds and pieces of wood, while human-made waste constituted about 2 percent of the total, he said.
Nearly half of the human-made waste was bags of trash, followed by isolated plastic garbage (28.8 percent), animal carcasses (8.5 percent) and extruded polystyrene foam products (7.7 percent), all of which could affect marine life, he added.
The agency would announce the results of interagency river cleanups every six months, Yen said.
People caught dumping waste in rivers could face a fine of NT$1,200 to NT$6,000 (US$38.14 to US$191) under the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法), or other penalties stipulated by water pollution regulations, he said.
Factory and animal farm wastewater are also typical sources of river pollution, he added.
The pollution index for the nation’s 50 major rivers has improved from 3.91 in 2001 to 2.55 last year, meaning that contamination has fallen from a moderate level to a mild level, agency data showed.
The agency has proposed a four-year project totaling NT$3.7 billion, including the cost of installing pollution control facilities, to reduce the concentration of ammoniacal nitrogen — a pollutant that can cause river water to stink and blacken, agency section chief Lin Hung-ta (林宏達) said.
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