WASTEWATER WOES:An electroplating plant was said to be using a drainage ditch after its permit to do so was revoked. The plant has been fined in the past
By Tang Shih-ming / Staff reporter
About 150 residents of Changhua County’s Tangyou Borough (糖友) on Thursday rallied in front of Songling electroplating plant saying the plant discharges wastewater directly into a rainwater drainage ditch, polluting water meant for agricultural and home use.
According to protesters, the wastewater was dumped into a ditch only 150m from two groundwater wells.
The demonstrators held banners carrying messages such as “Songling get lost! Move to Changhua Coastal Industrial Park!” and “Electroplating carried out by force has rendered Tangyou Borough uninhabitable,” while demanding that the plant relocate to a state-run industrial complex.
They later protested in front of the plant owner’s house, but were denied a meeting.
A man who claimed to be a friend of the owner said the facility spent more than NT$40 million (US$1.31 million) on “high-tech equipment” used for processing wastewater, and stressed that there could not possibly have been any pollution caused by the plant because had there been any, the Changhua County Environmental Protection Bureau would have taken countermeasures.
The plant has been closed since August, he added.
He accused the protesters of illegally staging the demonstration and Changhua County councilor candidates of using the protests for their personal advancement in the run-up to the Nov. 29 local elections, which he said had prompted the business owner, who was “terrified” by the mounting pressure, to stay in Greater Kaohsiung.
After warnings issued by police that the demonstration had not been authorized, and protesters should therefore leave, the crowd dispersed after reasserting their appeals.
The bureau said that the plant’s wastewater was dumped into a shared ditch for irrigation and industrial effluent after a request for the establishment of the rainwater drainage ditch was approved.
However, after Hemei Township Office (和美) revoked a permit that allowed the plant to discharge wastewater into the ditch, the bureau ordered the facility to suspend effluent release until a new permit was issued certifying that water prevention methods were in place.
According to the bureau, the plant was registered in 1992 and in 2012 obtained the now-revoked water pollution prevention permit; however, it was fined NT$100,000 for not having acquired a permit for the installation of stationary pollution sources, which violated Article 24 of the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣汙染防制法).