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Firms causing Kaohsiung waste explosions found

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Kaohsiung City Government yesterday said it had found the companies responsible for the two explosions at its Southern District Waste Management Plant (南區資源回收廠) in May, noting that it has transferred the case to the district prosecutors' office for further investigation.

The waste and recycling plant on May 7 and May 8 received flammable and explosive waste materials that subsequently caused two explosions in two days, the city's Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) said, adding that after a month of investigations it discovered that the flammable material was a magnesium alloy that came from a technology company based in Yanchao District (燕巢區) in Kaohsiung City (高雄市).

The bureau said that, according to the investigation, the technology company on May 6 entrusted a trade company to handle the magnesium alloy waste, adding that the trade company later handed part of the waste over to another recycling firm.

The EPB said that both the trade company and the recycling firm violated the Waste Disposal Act and posed great danger to public safety.

The bureau further explained that the powdered magnesium alloy easily oxidizes and explodes. The bureau added that if people attempt to put out a fire caused by magnesium with water, the reaction of the two elements will generate hydrogen and lead to more explosions.

Noting that the series of explosions at the Southern District Waste Management Plant caused a loss of over NT$10 million to the city government, the EPB said it had already revoked the recycling company's business registration and is seeking compensation.

The EPB said it has transferred the case to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office and the environmental police department under the Ministry of the Interior for further investigation.

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