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5 Changhua firms fined NT$52 mil. for wastewater

TAIPEI -- Five electroplating factories in the central county of Changhua will have to pay more than NT$52 million (US$1.7 million) in fines for releasing industrial waste water into irrigation channels, the county's Environmental Protection Bureau said Tuesday.

The five companies polluted 278 hectares of farm land with the waste water, said bureau director Liu Yu ping, speaking based on evidence collected by prosecutors who dug up pipelines laid around the factories.

While the county government launched a farmland treatment program back in 2002 due to the high levels of pollution in the area, Liu said compensation can only be sought for a maximum period of five years.

Fines of NT$49 million levied on the factories cover costs starting in 2009. Combined with additional fines for crop damage, the total amount fined comes out to NT$52.79 million.

The violators are also required to propose a plan to treat damage to 44 hectares of last year's first rice crop. Failing that, the government will take care of the treatment and send the bill to the offending factories, Liu said.

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