Thu, Jul 17, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Environmentalists say, connect to the world

DAY OF ACTION A dozen environmental groups and communities yesterday held a press conference to raise their voices against local incinerator-use policies

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Environmentalists and residents against incineration of waste yesterday urged the government to prevent the public from being poisoned by persistent organic pollutants (POPs) by updating environmental and health regulations.

Responding to yesterday's 716 Global Day of Action campaign by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a dozen environmental groups and communities yesterday held a press conference to raise their voices against incinerator waste-management policies.

Over 375 groups and communities from 77 countries fighting for the environment are involved with the 716 Global Day of Action campaign.

Anti-incinerator activists said, public health has been place in harm's way due to the overuse of incinerators in Taiwan.

"We've seen more and more skin allergies and respiratory diseases in children and young people living near incinerators and among workers at such plants," George Cheng (鄭益明), secretary-general of the Taiwan Watch Institution, said at a press conference.

Cheng said cancer patients in Taiwan were getting younger, adding that on average one cancer case was discovered among 10,000 children under the age of 15 annually.

DPP Legislator Eugene Jao (趙永清) said environmental regulations should have been updated by adopting the Stockholm Convention, which seeks the worldwide phasing-out of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

POPs are chemicals that remain in the environment for extremely long periods. These chemicals may spread widely, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife.

There are 12 chemicals on the treaty's list, known as "the dirty dozen," including dioxins, PCBs, DDT and other pesticides. According to the UN Environment Programme, 69 percent of dioxins come from waste-incinerator emissions.

Jao said that in 2011, when the 32 incinerators that the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) expects to complete are finished, about 38 percent of the total 23,300-tonne daily capacity will be unnecessary.

Eric Liou (劉銘龍), secretary-General of the Taipei-based Environmental Quality Protection Foundation, said that Taiwan should keep itself abreast of what the international community is doing to strengthen environmental regulations on POPs control.

Taking the Seventh Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meeting of the convention held from July 14 to July 18 in Geneva as an example, Liou said it was a shame that Taiwan was absent.

"To regulate POPs effectively, Taiwan needs to reach out to get the whole picture of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and their inter-relationship clearly," Liou said.

The Rotterdam Convention establishes a first line of defense by giving importing countries the tools and information they need to identify potential hazards and exclude chemicals they cannot manage safely.

The Basel Convention regulates the control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal.

In implementing the Stockholm Convention, governments take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs.

Green Formosa Front chairman Wu Tung-jye (吳東傑) said POPs pollution could be out of control because they circulate globally through the food chain.

"The last thing we want to see is the appearance of any road or any community contaminated by dioxins," Wu said.

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