Taiwan’s Changhua District Prosecutors Office are seeking a heavy penalty for two people allegedly responsible for dumping untreated wastewater from an electroplating plant into irrigation ditches. The Dongxi Er Zhen (東西二圳) irrigation canal feeds into farmland in the region, and authorities noted that water samples contained 4,452 times the acceptable level for chromium, according to the Central News Agency. The chemicals dumped into the waterway contained hexavalent chromium.
The two people being charge with illegal wastewater dumping, but both have claimed no responsibility for the pollution. The chemicals were traced to the factory after Taiwan Changhua Irrigation Associations suspected upstream pollution. Further inspection by the Environmental Protection Bureau led to the factory.
Authorities claim that the factory gained over NT$2 million (US$63,855) in profits over nine years by illegally dumping the chemicals. Prosecutors hope to recover the company’s illegal gains as well as some of the remediation costs.
The county Environmental Protection Bureau shuttered the factory on November 19, 2018, UDN reported. Authorities arrested a female manager and her employee who have been charged according to Taiwan’s Water Pollution Control Act. The employee had allegedly been instructed to pump the wastewater directly into the drainage system that fed into the irrigation canal.
The Dongxi Er Zhen irrigation canal is surrounded on both side with rice paddies. The Changhua County Government estimates that 478 farms were affected by the pollution. Remediation costs are estimated at over NT$100 million.