Exposing the world's highest dioxin pollution, Huang Huanzhang has been investigating environmental poisoning for 26 years, fighting black and white will never compromise

Published: 2024-05-21 Author: mysheen
Last Updated: 2024/05/21, Exposing the world's highest dioxin pollution, Huang Huanzhang has been investigating environmental poisoning for 26 years, fighting black and white will never compromise


Huang Huanzhang said that Taiwan's waters are colored. Red is spent acid, milk blue is alkali, purple is incinerator bottoms, emerald green is stainless steel slag. Also, when iron dissolves, the river turns latte. "I have been involved in environmental protection for 26 years, but Taiwan's environmental protection has been regressing. Many countries are taking a more scientific approach to industrial waste, and we are burying it." At the beginning of the interview, Huang Huanzhang bluntly said: "To say progress, only the means of official and business protection are more progressive."

Under Errenxi South Bridge,"Upstream and Downstream" climbed the cement grouting slope with Huang Huanzhang. He said that all we stepped on were electronic waste. "Since the 1960s, Taiwan has helped the world to dispose of electronic waste. The industry has gathered along the Erren River. Waste acid is discharged casually, and the electronic waste that is not treated is also carried to the Erren River for disposal." Years of waves have caused a shortage of earth dikes, printed circuit boards, keyboards, wires and cables, etc., all washed down to the bottom of the stream and into the sea...

On the other side, at the mouth of Erjen Creek, Huang Huanchang began his environmental campaign. In his early years, he chased the sunset to the banks of the Erren River to photograph the beautiful scenery of the sunset. He was surprised to see the "fish corpse road" stretching for three kilometers upstream from the estuary! He wept manly tears for the dead, for the river. After a change of heart, he devoted himself to environmental activism and began by saving Erjen Creek. One of his contributions is that the electronic waste under our feet is sealed with cement and no longer pollutes the river.

"Lack of money? Burn it!" Scholars pledge environmental protection to restore Erren River innocence

Huang Huanchang is a native of Xinying, Tainan. Barefoot and cricket fighting were his childhood routines. The country boy went all the way to a Ph.D. in chemistry and was quite famous for teaching at a university. He had no ambition in his life. He only wanted to teach, photograph and devote himself to the mountains. However, the tears flowing down from the mouth of Erjen Creek woke him up. Taiwan's environment was seriously ill, but he continued to do research and write papers. Can he heal this land? He wanted to make a more direct contribution with his chemistry major.

Through the newspaper, Huang Huanzhang knew that Du Minghui, the chief of the Buddhist altar, was very insightful about the pollution of Erren Creek. He first found Du Minghui, and then Su Shuilong of the Kaohsiung Sampan Association was introduced by the chief. The three people worked hard to return Erren Creek to "innocence."

At that time, there was a popular saying in the industry: "Lack of money?" Burn it!" Burning cables, burning waste hardware, disposing of waste is a huge profit, but the environmental debt is borne by the whole people. In the early years, copper, zinc, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in rivers and dioxins in the air in Wanli area, where pollution was most serious, all exceeded the standard seriously. In a few years, the number of cancer deaths increased by 45%, and the incidence rate of deformed children was 2.13%.

With only cameras, notes, maps and a mouth, Huang Huanzhang found out the truth step by step. Despite threats from scrap metal manufacturers and the obstruction of coastal fishing farms, he has no fear of responding, putting pieces of evidence in front of him, forcing the EPA to budget for cleaning up coastal electronic waste.

Electronic waste buried along the Erren River (courtesy of Huang Huanzhang) Taiwan alkali case sets a record for humanitarian compensation residents are grateful that "the truth can finally be known"

The Taiwan alkali case is one of those Huang Huan-chang still talks about, especially Chen Hsiao. She worked as a Taiwan alkali worker at the age of 20, and was poisoned by mercury and dioxin produced in the PCP process. She had both limbs amputated, lost sight in one eye, and had tumors on her elbows and joints. She had eight operations, and could only live on painkillers before she died. (Deliberately concealing dioxin pollution from Sinopec Anshun Plant for 22 years)

Another farming family had nine women with uterine tumors in three generations; almost every family in the village had at least one cancer. "The highest dioxin value measured on Anshun's land is the current world record," he said sadly."Let Taiwan keep this stigma and no other country break the record!"

Huang Huan-chang researched, searched, and found the owners of every fish farm around the factory. It took a very long time to gain everyone's trust and draw a complete map of cancer in the villagers. Dioxin has been detected in soil, river sediment, fish and shrimp, and human blood. It is the most complete case in Taiwan.

Huang took advantage of the opportunity to expose the victims of the Taiwan alkali case. He held weekly press conferences and pushed out one victim at a time until the government surrendered, announcing that "1.3 billion yuan in five years"(later expanded to "3.4 billion yuan in 19 years") would be given humanitarian care, just like Taiwan's version of "Never Compromise"(a live-action adaptation of Julia Roberts, depicting a legal amateur fighting for compensation for the polluted people).

But for the villagers, they are more grateful that Huang Huanzhang found out the truth,"otherwise we will die unjustly." A month after saying this, Lin Xianzhong, a villager suffering from all kinds of diseases, died.

A large amount of dioxin-containing waste was recovered from the Taiwan alkali case (Photo courtesy/Tainan Society University)"Environmental scene will not deceive" Environmental detectives dig up the truth in Taiwan

Huang Huanzhang's mantra for joining the environmental protection movement is that "when you walk, you leave a trail.""Environmental scenes don't lie." With the radar of a detective, he cleverly gathered clues and proofs. For example, he tracked down the illegal discharge of waste acid in Errenxi and found a red liquid residue in front of a metal house. He took photos from under the locked door and photographed the chassis of the oil tank car, which was also red. He knew that something was wrong. The next day, I brought the escalator to the factory to look around. I saw four big barrels secretly discharging waste acid into the stream at night! Bingo, he reported to the Tainan District Attorney's Office to stop the evil deeds of the operators.

There is a four-hectare grassland near the Taiwan alkali factory, attracting many people to take wedding dresses. Huang Huanzhang found it strange that there were two abrupt hills surrounded by fishing ponds. What was even more strange was that there were only two pollution-resistant species, Miscanthus and Acacia leucocephala, on the hills.