Taiwan’s scenic Hualien area considers solution to landfill problem

Budget approved to reinforce landfill on coastline

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Hualien City has a problem with erosion of a landfill. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Help is on the way for a garbage problem affecting the scenic coast line of East Taiwan’s Hualien County, according to the Central News Agency.

The late Chi Po-lin’s (齊柏林) 2013 documentary “Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above” ( 看見台灣) first fixed attention on the problem of garbage in Hualien ending up in the ocean through erosion.

The authorities in Hualien City have now reportedly received approval for the necessary funds to repair problems at the landfill at the southern end of Qixingtan Beach. However, environmentalists said a real solution would be to move the whole landfill and all the trash away from the coastline to a new site.

The landfill was closed in 1996 and turned into an “environmental protection park,” but the waves eroded the site, causing the trash to surface, producing an unbearable stench especially during the summer months, reports said.

At least three attempts to stop the erosion failed to bring any improvement, so the Hualien City Government proposed a NT$140.5 million (US$4.7 million) plan to repair and improve the scenery in the area, CNA reported.

The first NT$10 million phase of the plan won approval, allowing work to begin later this month on removing the trash from the site.

Critics said local politicians only came up with temporary solutions using concrete to protect garbage against the sea in what they dubbed an “eternal project.”

According to city officials, the only other solution would be to dig up the estimated 1 million tons of trash buried at the site and separate them into recyclable materials, but that would cost nearly NT$10 billion (US$337.5 million), a price tag impossible for the local government to bear.

Another problem was where to take the garbage, as the incinerator in neighboring Yilan County was reaching saturation. Officials said the only way would be for cement companies to burn it in their factories, CNA reported.