Thu, Jan 01, 2009 - Page 2 News List

EPA closing in on source of gas leaks

‘EXPEDITIOUSLY’The agency remained tight-lipped about the nature of the gases released in Taliao Township, but said the case would soon be solved

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Those responsible for the three poisonous gas leaks that occurred in the past month in the Tafa Industrial Park in Kaohsiung County’s Taliao Township (大寮) will be found in the next few days, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.

But when asked about analysis results of the toxins, the director-general of the department of air quality protection and noise control, Yang Ching-shi (楊慶熙), provided vague answers, saying there were “several toxic substances.”

Meanwhile, a senior EPA official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that rather than resolving the matter at the national level, the dispute should first have been handled by the county.

The gas leaks occurred on Dec. 1, Dec. 12 and Dec. 25, affecting school children and teachers in the nearby Chao-liao elementary and middle school.

Dozens fell ill and were sent to hospital for emergency treatment, suffering from nausea, dizziness and chest pain.

During the press conference yesterday, EPA Director-General of the Department of Supervision, Evaluation and Dispute Resolution Hsiao Hui-chuan (蕭慧娟) cited the Public Nuisance Dispute Mediation Act and said a committee at the county level would be created to mediate any disputes between Taliao residents and the industrial park.

Should mediation fail, a Public Nuisance Dispute Arbitration Panel at the EPA level would make a final ruling, she said.

A health evaluation committee was formed on Sunday to assess the impact on the affected individuals’ health, she said.

“We will definitely find the culprit,” Yang said.

He said gas samples were sent for analysis and fingerprint identification on Monday.

Asked what types of gases have been identified, Yang said: “Multiple kinds of gases … They contained many substances.” The substances “would have a negative effect on human bodies if they were exposed for a long time.”

Yang said the EPA expected to resolve the case “expeditiously,” adding: “We are working overtime.”

Asked again for a timeline, he said the case would be solved “in the next few days.”

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