Published: Friday 15 September 2000

Three executives and 19 workers of two companies were charged with dumping tons of toxic waste into a river in southern Taiwan. Prosecutors said that the executives could be sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted of attempted murder. They were caught pouring a cancer-causing solvent, dimethyl benzene, into a tributary of the Kaoping River, which serves as a main source of drinking water in southern Taiwan.

The executives charged include the chairman of the Eternal Chemical Corporation and president and vice president of the Shengli, a chemical company. Shengli was responsible for dumping industrial waste for Eternal Chemical Corporation.

The other 19 people charged -- all employees of either company -- face sentences ranging from three years to life imprisonment, prosecutors added.

The government has imposed a fine of us $8.4 million on Eternal Chemical Corporation and us $5.2 million on Shengli. According to prosecutors, Shengli had dumped at least 13,500 tonnes of the waste solvent into the Kaoping river since 1987. In the year 2000 alone, more than 400 tonnes of waste had been dumped into the rivers of Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest city.

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