Predicaments and Opportunities for Industrial Waste Governance: The Case of Agricultural Land Pollution in Qishan District





Published date: 

June, 2019


Mei-Fang Fan
Chih-Ming Chiu


Government agencies often face the problem of clarifying causal relationships and regulatory applications in industrial waste disputes. This article uses the case of slag waste pollution on Qishan farmland in Kaohsiung City to explore the dynamic interaction process of power and scientific knowledge production among various levels of government agencies and related organizations. This article adopts the new political sociology of science (NPSS) framework to examine how scientific knowledge, rules and power interact with each other. The case highlights the problems associated with an unequal power structure and resources as well as deficiencies in current industrial waste regulations. Residents found that the Yuantan pool in Qishan was backfilled by slag, which caused a large number of organisms to die and emit an unpleasant smell. The local EPA claims that the soil test results indicated that there was no pollution. However, the Agriculture and Food Agency found that the water quality was strongly alkaline, in excess of the EPA's standard for soil pollution regulations. Different government agencies have competing opinions as to who should take responsibility. The industry claims that slag is a "byproduct" in the steelmaking process, and therefore the Waste Disposal Act does not apply to it. Following a series of protests and campaigns, local residents and self-help associations engaged in the production of scientific knowledge and lawsuits. Citizen participation has reshaped policy discourses and knowledge production processes, and has led to the amendment of regulatory policies. This article highlights the dynamics of the transformation of networks and power images in relation to the illegal dumping of industrial waste, as well as the crucial role played by local knowledge and citizen activism in the remaking of industrial waste goverance.