The Taichung City Government yesterday fined the Taichung Power Plant NT$20 million (US$647,962) for poor management of industrial wastewater.
The Taichung Environmental Protection Bureau gave the coal-fired plant until April 30 to come up with a proposal to ameliorate the situation, bureau Director-General Wu Chih-chao (吳志超) said in a statement posted on the city government’s Web site.
The plant, which is run by state-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), was fined in accordance with Section 40 of the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法), Wu said.
It is the highest fine ever imposed on a state-owned enterprise, the statement said.
A test conducted on March 21 by the bureau found that wastewater from the plant’s No. 1 to No. 4 generators contained nitrate nitrogen levels that exceeded the allowable limit, Wu said.
Two other tests carried out earlier this year on generators No. 5 to No. 8 also turned up levels that exceeded the limit, he said.
Taipower in a statement said that high nitrate nitrogen levels were mainly caused by the plant’s focus on preventing air pollution, resulting in a lack of capacity to manage water pollution.
The utility said it respects the city government’s decision.
“We need to resolve the problem of wastewater first. We have yet to discuss whether to appeal the fine,” Taipower spokesman Hsu Tsao-hua (徐造華) told the Taipei Times by telephone.
The company must pay the fine by May 15, the Chinese-language Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) reported, citing Taichung Information Bureau Director-General Wu Huang-sheng (吳皇昇).
To demonstrate its willingness to lower nitrate nitrogen levels in wastewater, the plant has halved the output of generators No. 1 to No. 4, Taipower said.
The plant has also readjusted an operating meter for flue gas desulfurization equipment to reduce the level of nitrogen oxides, it said, adding that round-the-clock supervision of the generators is being enforced to regulate the quantity of ammonia injection.
Generator No. 4 would be shut down to test equipment and improve wastewater management, Taipower said, adding that adjustments would be made to generator No. 3 to improve air pollution controls.
Taipower reiterated the importance of the plant, which it said plays a key role in ensuring a steady power supply for the nation.
The timing for the generators to return to normal generation levels would depend on wastewater conforming to regulations, it said.
The company said it hopes that improvements to the plant’s wastewater management could be made by early next month, as the nation’s electricity consumption is to greatly increase afterward.
It would maintain a low operating reserve margin of 6 percent over the next 10 days, as there have been no forecasts of abnormally hot weather, Taipower said, adding that and adjustments would be made according to the weather and electricity consumption.
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