More than 100 barrels of chemical solutions and used ink found illegally dumped last year near the Feitsui Reservoir (翡翠水庫) in New Taipei City did not pollute the drinking water of 6 million people, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said on Wednesday.
The Taipei Water Management Office in September last year reported the dumping to the EPA, which found 99 barrels of chemical solution (20 liters each), five barrels of used printing ink (125 liters each) and more than 20 bags of waste cloth in the reservoir’s catchment area in Sindian District (新店).
If the toxic chemicals had leaked out of the barrels, the drinking water for New Taipei City and Taipei would have been contaminated, the EPA said.
Photo courtesy of the Environmental Protection Administration
The barrels, found 3m from a creek, remained intact, but copper concentration in some barrels was nearly three times higher than legally allowed in hazardous waste, it said.
Excessive intake of copper could cause cirrhosis, kidney failure and other symptoms of poisoning in digestive or central nervous systems, and high levels of copper can also accumulate in oysters and plants, jeopardizing the entire food chain, the EPA said.
The Bureau of Environmental Inspection Northern Branch was able to restore the smeared labels on the barrels, which led them to more than 10 printing operators across New Taipei City, it said.
The printing operators had commissioned an unlicensed waste disposal company based in Tainan, whose manager, surnamed Lin (林), and an accomplice, surnamed Lo (羅), allegedly dumped them near the reservoir without proper treatment, the bureau said.
Thanks to regular patrols by the water management office, the barrels were reported shortly after they were dumped, branch commander Chang Nai-jen (張乃仁) said.
The short grass surrounding the barrels was a sign that they had only been there for a short time, he said, adding that it was fortunate that the barrels were undamaged.
The EPA worked with police and prosecutors for nearly six months to gather evidence, and the two suspects face prosecution. If convicted, they could be sentenced to one to five years in jail or fined up to NT$15 million (US$494,951) under Article 46 of the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法), he said.
Prosecutors have yet to determine whether to also charge the printing operators, he added.
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