Thu, Jun 15, 2006 - Page 2 News List

EPA taps experience of Japanese noise expert

CITY SOUNDS The EPA is seeking advice on how to prevent noise pollution from a Japanese professor, who plans to study part of Chengde Road in Taipei

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the Chinese Institute of Engineers co-hosted a two-day seminar to learn from Japan's experience in controlling noise caused by mass transportation systems.

The event ended yesterday.

Professor Fukuhara Hiroatsu of Kuni Taichi College of Music, who has been involved in noise control efforts in Japan for more than two decades, was invited to share his insights into measuring sound and preventing noise pollution.

Fukuhara will join EPA officials as well as engineers from the institute to visit a section on Taipei's Chengde Road, where both the mass rapid transit system and the Sun Yat-sen Freeway are located.

He will also investigate sources of noise in the neighborhood.

Hsieh Bin-huei (謝炳輝), a section chief in the EPA's department of air quality protection and noise control, said complaints about noise from the traffic accounted for only a small proportion of those the administration had dealt with over the past decade.

However, it had become a more pressing issue as the number of highways and expressways had increased and the construction of the high-speed railway would be completed soon, Hsieh said.

During yesterday's seminar, Fukuhara focused mainly on how to control traffic noise using methods commonly used for construction sites.

On Tuesday, the first day of the seminar, Hseih said that an amendment to the Noise Control Act (噪音防制法), which went to first reading during the last legislative session, dictates that government agencies managing highways, expressways, railways and city mass rapid transit systems will have to submit improvement plans within six months if noise from these systems is found to exceed the legal limit.

Hsieh, however, noted challenges in enforcing the law.

"Most complaints come from places where different transportation systems coexist, which may also belong to different government agencies," Hsieh said. "The overall noise volume might exceed the limit, but this might not be so when each system is measured separately."

Lan Wei-kung (藍維恭), chief of the road engineering section at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, said the ministry had cautioned the EPA about the consequences of giving local governments the authority to regulate noise.

Highways go through different counties, he said, and counties may have different standards for regulating noise.

He said the ministry had suggested that the law be enforced by the central government.

Lan added that Taiwan had limited space and most highways had to be built above the ground.

And even though partitions can be built to block noise, this could only lower the sound level by approximately three decibels, he said.

According to EPA statistics, 375,087 complaints about noise have been filed between 1988 and last year.

Thirty-two percent concerned noises from businesses, followed by those from factories (31 percent) and construction (16 percent).

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