Con­tam­i­nated rice sus­pects caught, probe un­der­way: gov’t

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY STEPHANIE CHAO

A com­pany sus­pected of rent­ing out rice fields with me­tal waste buried in the ground was taken to court yesterday in Tainan City, yet the case sug­gests that a sea­son’s worth of con­tam­i­nated crops had al­ready made it to mar­ket and been con­sumed.

In an in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­ducted by the Chiyai County Sta­tion un­der the Min­istry of Jus­tice, Ming Hsiang Hsin Co., a waste dis­posal com­pany based in Tainan City, al­legedly took and buried 200,000 tons of me­tal waste from a num­ber of steel and me­tal com­pa­nies be­neath farm­land near Chi­ang Chun Creek ( ).

The head of Ming Hsiang Hsin Co. and share­hold­ers were charged with vi­o­lat­ing the Waste Dis­posal Act, Busi­ness Ac­count Act and forgery.

Ac­cord­ing to the Chiyai County Sta­tion, in­ves­ti­ga­tions are un­der­way re­gard­ing the dis­tri­bu­tion of the con­tam­i­nated rice and whether the Chi­ang Chun Creek had been pol­luted by the buried me­tal waste.

A sta­tion of­fi­cial stated dur­ing lo­cal media in­ter­views that of­fi­cials had been look­ing into the Ming Hsiang Hsin case for the last six months, and started dig­ging in the area with the help of the Tainan En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Bureau af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the me­tal waste dump lo­ca­tion.

The com­pany was sus­pected to have buried the me­tal waste t wo me­ters deep i nto t he ground, and rented the con­tam­i­nated fields out to un­sus­pect­ing farmer, thus prof­it­ing by at least NT$ 200 mil­lion in the past four years.

The Agri­cul­ture and Food Agency ( AFA) un­der the Coun­cil of Agri­cul­ture ( COA) and the Tainan City Gov­ern­ment will take sam­ples of the pos­si­bly con­tam­i­nated soil and crops to de­ter­mine whether they have ex­ceeded al­low­able lev­els of heavy- me­tal ma­te­ri­als. Both sec­tors also in­structed the Syue­jia Farmer’s As­so­ci­a­tion to cease dis­tribut­ing its public stock of grains to avoid fur­ther in­stances of con­sum­ing po­ten­tially prob­lem­atic crops. Sam­ples of the grain stock will also be taken for test­ing.

Chuang Lao- ta, an of­fi­cial with the Agri­cul­ture and Food Agency’s South­ern Branch, stated that the agency’s pe­ri­od­i­cal sam­pling must have missed the al­legedly con­tam­i­nated crops, in re­sponse to ques­tions from re­porters about the gov­ern­ment’s lack of re­spon­si­bil­ity in over­see­ing the sam­pling.

Ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­view of a farmer by lo­cal media sources, the COA may have missed prob­lem­atic crops dur­ing test­ing be­cause of how the dumped waste me­tal was buried. Farm­ers said that the buried waste was cov­ered with at least two me­ters of soil, since crops get their nu­tri­ents from around one me­ter be­low the sur­face.

CNA

A back­hoe digs into a field of crops in this photo pro­vided by the Chi­ayi County Sta­tion yesterday. The Chi­ayi County Sta­tion charged the sus­pected com­pany that had been al­legedly dump­ing and bury­ing me­tal waste in farm­lands, and ex­ploit­ing farm­ers by rent­ing the con­tam­i­nated lands out to them for the past four years.

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