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Taoyuan to clamp down on heavy metal water pollution

TAIPEI--The Taoyuan County government said that it will crack down on heavy metal pollution after environmental groups claimed heavy metal contamination has been detected on the coast bordering the county's Dayuan Industrial Park.

Huang Chun-nan, a representative of environmental groups including Taiwan Watch Institute, said at a press conference recently that serious heavy metal pollution was evident based on tests of wild oysters collected from rivers and estuaries along the coast.

The Dayuan Industrial Park is suspected as one of the major heavy metal polluters, according to Huang.

Wild oysters in rivers and estuaries serve as an indicator species, helping gather information on pollution in offshore areas and gauge the overall health of the ecosystem.

Huang said the average value of copper contamination on Taoyuan's coastline was at a level similar to the notorious 1986 “green oyster incident,” in which heavy metal pollutants caused cultured oysters to turn green.

In response, the Taoyuan County Environmental Protection Bureau said the county is an industrial stronghold in northern Taiwan, with 10,000 registered factories in 29 industrial zones.

Even though these factories handle discharges of wastewater based on national standards, relatively high levels of heavy metals in water are possible due to long term accumulation.

The bureau also suggested that the central government should consider re-examining pollution control and wastewater discharge regulations and then formulate contingency measures to meet the needs of the current situation.

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