Sat, Sep 25, 2004 - Page 2 News List

EPA steps up enforcement

CRACKING DOWN The EPA says it will target illegal practices such as discharging untreated waste water, but critics say it should have been doing that already

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Beginning Monday, the manpower and other resources of environmental agencies at all levels will be stepped up and coordinated to better enforce regulations, the Environmental Protection Admin-istration (EPA) said yesterday.

According to Chang Hoang-jang (張晃彰), director of the EPA's Chief Inspectorate, inspection manpower has been rearranged to better expose illegalities involving air pollution, water pollution, waste disposal and other environmental concerns.

The EPA says it will target certain illegal practices with more intensive enforcement. Beginning Monday, inspectors from the central government will work with local government officials to target potential violators in those areas.

One target will be factories which discharge untreated waste water. Chang said that the punishment for such factories could be a NT$1 million fine.

"Those intentionally breaching environmental regulations may be taken to court because of their illegal activities," Chang told the Taipei Times.

In addition, pig farms, electroplating factories and large industrial complexes which discharge sewage will also be targeted, Chang said.

Other focuses of the extensive enforcement plan will address air pollution from construction sites, steel-making plants and foundries; unregistered vendors selling oil to fishing boats and residents burning garbage privately.

Individuals who break environmental laws won't get off lightly either, Chang said. For example, people violating regulations that limit the use of plastic bags and disposable utensils at certain places will be punished by a fine ranging between NT$1,200 and NT$6,000.

According to a survey by the EPA, more than 80 percent of interviewees support the policy which limits the use of plastic bags. But between June and August, only 26 owners running restaurants or stores were fined.

Chang said that other focuses of waste disposal inspection will include tracing industrial waste to prevent illegal dumping activities.

Green Formosa Front chairman Wu Tung-jye (吳東傑) told the Taipei Times yesterday that the EPA's announcement of stepped-up enforcement of environmental regulations was based on old-fashioned thinking.

Wu said that Taiwan's EPA still believes that heavy punishment will protect the environment, whereas most advanced countries promote "green" designs for products to be consumed.

Wu said that environmental deterioration in Taiwan could be attributed to poor development of environmental policies and lax inspection.

"Pledging to tackle environmental problems at a particular point in time seems ridiculous," Wu said.

Wu said activities listed in the EPA's intensive enforcement pro-ject should have been carried out routinely.

Chang said that the project would be reviewed monthly and adjusted as needed.

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