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Talk of the day -- Threat to water resources, farmers

Talk of the day -- Threat to water resources, farmers

While garbage recycling is a common practice in Taiwan's urban areas, it is not unusual in mountain areas to see farmers arbitrarily discarding empty pesticide containers, which causes pollution of mountains and rivers.
Discarded glass bottles along rural roadsides also pose a danger to farmers with plots close by.
The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the garbage disposal issue: China Times: The arbitrary dumping of empty pesticide containers near the watershed areas in central Taiwan's greater Lishan mountain area is endangering the safety of the water supply to metropolitan Taichung, Changhua and Nantou which lie at the foot of the mountains.
In March, a garbage collection site in Heping township, Taichung County was seen piled high with trash, mostly from farmers who grow vegetables and fruits in the mountains. It took garbage disposal crews more than 10 days to clear the site.
Some farmers in the high-altitude farming district of Huakang in the mountains between Taichung County and Nantou County never sort their trash, according to a township official Huang Chieh. These farmers mix in toxic pesticide containers with normal waste, he said.
The Huakang farming district is located in the watershed area between the Hehuan and Begang rivers. Along the mountain road, one can see "garbage waterfalls" stretching 300-400 meters from the road to the river banks. The hillsides are almost bare. Even insects are rarely seen there.
But according to Chang Wen-teh, head of Tsueiluan Village in Nantou County, the garbage that is seen on the hillsides is probably much less than what is buried under the earth and weeds.
Chang said garbage is polluting the Hehuan River, which is one of the main branches of the Tajia River that supplies water to residents of the greater Taichung area. The farmers on the greater Lishan mountains are usually not aboriginals but rather mostly developers from Yilan and Taichung whose only concern is to make a profit, he said.
They usually pull out after they have earned enough money, leaving the residents of the area to deal with bare slopes and toxic waste, Chang complained.
Because there are no laws stipulating that pesticide containers must be recycled, "there is no designated area on the mountains for the collection of empty pesticide bottles, " said Lai Sheng-kung, chairman of the Lishan community development association.
"Nonetheless, some environmentally conscious farmers usually take their pesticide containers to the towns at the foot of the mountain," said Lai. "But those without a social conscience throw the bottles directly down the hillsides." (April 5, 2010).
Liberty Times: Chung Tzi-lang, 78, owns a farm that borders a provincial road in Yunlin County's Lunbei township. His property is often littered with energy drink bottles thrown from passing vehicles.
Chung has twice sustained cuts on his hands from broken glass bottles on his farm. This has forced him to file a complaint with the Executive Yuan.
After collecting more than 70 discarded bottles on Chung's farm, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) inspectors admitted that "the problem is serious" and it appealed to people's social conscience.
According to EPA statistics, the volume of unrecycled glass bottles amounts to 45,000 tons per year. Based on an estimated weight of 500 grams per bottle, there are some 90 million bottles "lying around" outside the recycling system every year, which poses a big threat to farmers, it said. (April 5, 2010).
(By Elizabeth Hsu)




Updated : 2021-10-27 05:31 GMT+08:00