After a year in limbo, Formosa Plastics Corp and the Taiwan government have decided to process the toxic waste in Taiwan that was originally shipped to Sihanoukville in late 1998 and panicked local residents, according to a news report.
The Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration last month decided that all of the 357 cargo containers of waste could be stored and processed at Formosa’s factory in southern Taiwan, the Taipei Times reported last Saturday. The firm is now purchasing the required equipment and facilities to process the waste, the report said.
The controversial mercury-tainted waste was dumped near Sihanoukville in December 1998, prompting riots and a panicked exodus from the coastal town. One dock worker died soon after handling the waste, and many other workers and residents near the dump site reported feeling ill.
Under pressure, Taiwan agreed to take the waste back several months later. But efforts by Formosa to then ship the waste to the US failed, in large part because of strong lobbying by US environmental groups.
Om Yentieng, Cambodia’s negotiator during the toxic-waste scandal, noted that the waste has left Cambodia and is now Taiwan’s concern.
“If it is stored or dumped somewhere else, it’s up to them, but not in Cambodia,” he said.
Heng Nareth, director of the Environment Ministry’s Pollution Control Department, said Thursday that the ground water near the dump site has been tested three times, and no health risk is present.