This is a story about one cross-national firm which invested in Taiwan. They earned huge amount of money, but left behind per-manently polluted land, water, and cancer which cause thousand workers ill and dead.
In order to attract foreign capitals, the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taiwan kept offering preferences to attract foreign investments. But, owing to the neglect to workers' safety and the carelessness of the government, the workers in Taiwan were just like worn-out materials being cast aside. 30 years ago, when Taiwan's economy boomed, many foreign firms flooded into Taiwan. RCA, the best-seller for TV set, Video player and sound system, among one of them, built up it's branch factories in Tao-yuan, Ju-Bei and I-lan during the 1970s. In the highest peak, RCA hired up to 20 to 30 thousands local workers from Taiwan, and for many times being honoured by the Taiwan government as the best exporting firm as well as model factory, until it ceased roduction in 1992. In 1998, the datas of polluted water around the RCA factories came uncovered. People then came to realise why cancer be the major death reason of those neighbourhoods and former workers. According to the official statistics, there were at least 293 former workers of RCA died from cancer, and up to one thousand had already got cancer.
During the RCA 20 years in Taiwan, they kept digging wells for dumping poisonous raffs, which was the direct cause for under-ground water pollution! The criteria for drinking water set by WHO was totally ignored by RCA. The former workers then realize and said: "No wonder those administrators drank mineral water, only silly workers like us drank poisonous water, even when we took shower, the water was poisonous!"
Until Feburary, 1998, the Enviornmental Protection Administration (EPA) in Taiwan confirmed the former headquater of RCA in Tao-Yuan the "permenant polluted area". According to the investigation cond-ucted by Industrial Technology Research Institute(ITRI), even the underground water two kilometers beyond the factory contain higher-than-standard TRICHLOROETHYLENE and TETRACHLOROETHYLENE. RCA left Taiwan with huge profit, but left for us the unrecoverable polluted land and water. The 29-thousand ping land of former headquater RCA has been undergoing renovation, by digging and washing up to 20 meters under surface. It cost at least 200 million NT dollars.
Before the factories closed, many Taiwanese workers were laid off just before retirement. Without money for old age, they were again knocked by cancer, the fatal disease. Unfortunately, even the Epidemiologists have yet found the direct cause-and-effect for the patients.
During the 20 years, RCA Taiwan was once merged by GE Thompson Consumer Electronics. This huge multinational firm owns 55 thousands workers in 45 countries, with products selling to over 100 countries. After the story broke out, for three years Thompson conducted pollution investigation around the Tao-Yuan factory, under the pressure by EPA, but they totally neglected the wokers' health.. Although under the supervision of EPA, the government spent over 200 million NT dollars to clean up the land, the death toll kept increasing each year. Hopeless and angry, old workers said : "People's life are even worthless than the soil!"
Looking from the aspect of commercialism, people's life, of course, have less value than soil. The land has the potential for regaining values, selling and reusing, it is a "product". In the case for RCA . Tao-Yuan factory, before the selling of Thompson factory, it had been underwent a registration for land change. Thus, it was sold in the price of 1600 million NT dollars, a commercial land price.
What about people's life? Shall they wait for the Epidemiological conclusion 20 years later? And even we file a class-action lawsuit, who is affordable?
Satirically, recently RCA kept promoting its image as a environ-mental protector. They kept emphasizing the importance of protecting the earth, and selling the concept of "Recycled Management", making use of recycled materials for home appliances manufacturing.
However, looking through the eyes of Taiwanese, we only see RCA as a multinational company digging well and pouring waste water, just want to reduce the cost for environmental protection. And even worse, they made vulunerable workers contacting, breathing and even drinking toxicant and getting cancer.
RCA Employees Occupational Cancer Self-help Institution was estab-lished in
1998. Its 1,000 members, 78 died from cancer, over 500 people are still suffering
from various cancer diseases. Now they are contacting the labor unions, environmental
groups, doctors specialized on occupational diseases and lawyers worldwidely,
preparing to file a compensational lawsuit against RCA.