Hsinchu magistrate protests river pollution

At a public hearing held at the Legislative Yuan yesterday afternoon, Hsinpu Township Council Speaker Wang Tseng-chi, left and wearing a headband, takes a cup of water collected from a polluted river at his home town in Hsinchu County, and challenges Minister Shen Shu-hung, front right, of the Environmental Protection Administration to drink the water.

The China Post news staff–Hsinchu County Magistrate Chiu Ching-chun  yesterday led county residents in a protest at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei against the pollution of the water source of Hsinpu Township, and called for the central government to do something about it.

The protest was mainly triggered by the fact that the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) suddenly reversed a decision which would have required two manufacturing plants — Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (CPT) and AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) — located in Longtan Township of Taoyuan County to release their waste water into rivers in Taoyuan County, instead of Hsinchu County.

The protesters called for the Legislative Yuan to help return justice to county residents by asking the EPA to stop the two high-tech firms from continuing polluting the river that supplies water to Hsinpu Township for drinking and irrigation purposes.

CPT and AUO have for 10 years released industrial waste water to Hsiaoli River in Hsinpu Township, a reservation area.

At the rally in front of the county government earlier yesterday morning, protesters wore headbands that read “Refuse to Drink Toxic Water” and shouted slogans that pledged their determination to stop CPT and AUO from polluting their drinking water source.

Magistrate Chiu said yesterday that EPA Minister Shen Shih-hung told lawmakers on March 19 that if AUO and CPT fail to find another waste water drainage location by the end of the month, their plants should be shut down.

“But we received on March 20 an official notice from the EPA declaring that Hsiaoli River will no longer serve as a source of drinking water, and that Hsinchu County residents should go upstream to where Hsiaoli and Fengshan rivers merge,” Chiu cited the EPA notice as saying.

He accused the central government of “legalizing a controversial measure” by permitting the two companies to keep polluting the river, damaging the health of local residents and imposing on the rights of local farmers to irrigate their crops with clean water.

The EPA notice to the county government reflected a Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) decision on March 13 that Hsiaoli River will no longer serve as a source of drinking water and advising local residents and farmers draw water upstream where the river merges with Fengshan River.

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