Toxic Cleanup

The Chinese-language China Times reported today that Taiwan's biggest toxic waste cleanup ever is underway. The site is the old Anshun factory in Tainan where Taiwan Alkali Industrial Corp. (TAIC) made chemicals including DDT between 1942 and 1982. The site was then taken over by China Petrochemical Develepment Corp. a subsidiary of the state-owned China Petroleum, Taiwan's largest oil company. It is estimated that 20,000 metric tons of toxic soil will have to be removed from the site. Meanwhile, the Tainan City Environmental Protection Bureau and the Institute for Industrial Technololgy Research Industry are conducting studies on the effects of dioxin seepage on local residents and the extent of the pollution.

Once the studies are completed, the cabinet-level Environmental Protection Agency intends to demand compensation from China Petrochemical. Toxins in the soil include significant levels of dioxin, mercury, and Pentachlorophenol. Dioxin levels in the blood of area residents are the highest in Taiwan. It is believed that residentsingested the dioxins by eating shellfish caught in the area.

The first batch of soil tests show that 40 percent of soil between .7 meters and 1.1 meters contains dioxin levels > 1000 picograms/gram. This is the Japanese limit for soil dioxin levels in residential areas. 250 picograms/gram is the Japanese warning level.