US refuses Taiwan's toxic waste ship

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The Independent Online
FORMOSA PLASTICS Corp, the Taiwan petrochemical giant, said yesterday it was taking back mercury-laced industrial waste that was dumped in Cambodia late last year, but insisted it would be sent overseas.

Lee Chih-tsun, president of Formosa, said the waste would be temporarily returned to Taiwan, where it originated, but would not even pass the island's customs.

After plans to ship the waste to the United States fell through, Mr Lee said yesterday, "We have no intention to keep the stuff here [in Taiwan]. "We want to ship it to an advanced country, preferably the US."

Formosa had arranged for Safety-Kleen Corp, a US contractor, to send the waste for disposal in a dump at Westmorland in southern California. Mr Lee said the plan fell through after environmentalists persuaded the US Environmental Protection Agency to revoke a dumping permit for the 5,000 tonnes of waste.

Mok Mareth, the Cambodian environment minister, said, "All I want is for the waste to be shipped out of Cambodia." Several people died in riots after the waste was discovered in December near the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville.

The Cambodian firm that brought the waste from Taiwan is alleged to have colluded with local officials to allow the import.Several officials have been arrested. Formosa has denied any wrongdoing. (Reuters)