Taipei, Oct. 5 (CNA) Over 500 residents of Tainan County’s Longci Township smashed chairs, flipped tables, and clashed with police Tuesday to protest the construction of a proposed landfill that they feared will cause irreversible damage to the area’s ecosystem.
The project, involving a landfill and an industrial waste management facility in the Longci Industrial Park, has received the green light from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the Tainan County Government, but the protesters were not convinced it will be environmentally sound.
“We are adamantly against the project because we believe the toxic by-products will seep into the ground and taint our water, soil and air, ” said Cheng Wen-chien, an environmental specialist at the Longci Township office.
“Although the company has assured us they will keep pollution to the minimum, area residents are still extremely worried.”
The protests broke out at a meeting in the township held by the project’s contractor, Ocin Environmental Co., to notify local residents of the landfill plan, on which work is scheduled to begin at the end of the year.
Several people were reportedly hurt during the altercations, but the project’s contractor insisted that the plan will move forward despite the staunch opposition of local residents.
“The company will continue doing its best to communicate with local residents but there is no plan to suspend the project, ” said Hsu Chih-hau, manager of the partially state-owned Ocin Environmental Company, which was awarded the project by the Industrial Development Bureau.
Addressing the protesters’ concerns, Hsu told the Central News Agency that his company has planned ample measures to prevent any leakage of toxic products, including using cement-based solidification to treat waste materials and recycling water discharged from the facility.
He also said much of the 41-hectare site designated for the project will retain its original landscape because the landfill and waste management plant will only occupy 14.5 hectares of land.
The project has economic benefits as well, Hsu said.
The company is obligated by law to contribute NT$60 million to the Tainan County government, with 70 percent of the funds going directly to Longci Township to fund local development, the executive said.
In addition, the project will create an estimated 30 to 50 jobs once it becomes operational roughly 10 months after construction begins, Hsu added.
But with local residents becoming more environmentally conscious, Hsu and his company may still face resistance in the future.
One protester, Hsiao Hsiu-hua, said she will fight against the landfill to the end.
“Who in their right mind would accept a garbage dump right in their backyard?” she wondered.