Hsinchu residents protest Siaoli River pollution
By Joy Lee ,The China Post
November 29, 2012, 12:01 am TWN
Wastewater discharge from Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd. (CPTT, 中華映管) and AU Optronics Corp. (AUO, 友達光電) into the Siaoli River has been problematic for many years. The Saving Siaoli River Actions Alliance launched the protest and over a hundred police officers arrived to set up barbed wire fences and to maintain order.
According to the Siaoli River alliance, the EPA asked CPTT and AUO to stop allowing wastewater to enter the Siaoli River, and to instead route the discharge into Taoyuan County's Laojie River (老街溪) in 2009.
The alliance said, however, the MOEA announced in March this year that the Siaoli River was no longer a source of potable water, which means it will continue to be a dumping-ground for the discharge.
Industrial Development Bureau Deputy Director-General Leu Jang-hwa (呂正華) and EPA Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) came out and exchanged ideas with the leader of the alliance but no mutual agreements were made.
After brief discussions with government officials and having received no satisfying answers, the protestors threw water balloons with contaminated water from the Siaoli River at signs of the MOEA and EPA to express their anger.
Leu later said during an interview that the water supply company now uses water upstream from the Fengshan River (鳳山溪) instead of the Siaoli River. The alliance questioned the truthfulness of the statement.
MOEA will do its best to promote industrial development in Taiwan, Leu said, while also listening to local citizens' opinions at the same time.
Dmestic and International Support
Some environmental protection supporters were also there to witness the protest. Jenny Nutter, the executive assistant to the head of the Australian Greens said “During this trip to Taiwan, I was impressed by the highly democratic society and the widespread awareness of environmental protection of Taiwanese people. However, I was also surprised to see all these officers and barbed wire fences against protesters, which I have never seen at any protests in Australia.
“Even though the government tried to show people that Taiwan is a democratic society,” Nutter said, “these actions only showed that government officials are not willing to listen to what people try to express.”
Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲), the director of Green Party Taiwan, said “The government is not able to solve this serious issue about polluting national lands and rivers and the result is that thousands of citizens suffer from the pollution.”
Robin J. Winkler, founder of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan, said: “It is unfortunate that we have to waste social resources because the EPA didn't do its job to protect the environment. The government should not wait until people take to the streets to listen to reason.”