Public health experts yesterday said the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) should factor in environmental background values, or existing threats, when assessing the health risks posed by development projects.
Chan Chang-chuang (詹長權), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, recently concluded a study on the health risks facing residents living near Formosa Group’s naphtha cracker plant in Mailiao (麥寮), Yunlin County.
The EPA should factor in health risks that already exist in a community when assessing the risks posed by a new development and should not simply use one in 1 million as the acceptable health risk value, Chan told a Social Welfare, Environmental and Hygiene Committee meeting at the legislature, which was discussing the government’s approach to health risk assessments.
Developers who sought to launch projects in areas where health risks are already prevalent should reduce the scope of their projects to avoid exacerbating the situation, Chan said.
“When a patient is already poisoned, the priority is to reduce the poison levels in his body,” Chan said. “Once the poison level is reduced, you should try not to increase it again.”
“Locations such as coastal areas in western parts of the country already have higher health risks than anywhere in Taiwan,” the professor said.
“One cannot say that this one project will only add a little to the existing risks [in the areas],” Chan said.
At present, regulations only look at the additional health risks a project might pose. However, many people say background values should also be considered, he said.
Former Environmental Protection Administration chief Winston Dang (陳重信) said acceptable values should be determined by considering the health risks posed to women and the children.
In addition, people responsible for establishing the methodology to be used to calculate health risks should not serve on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee to avoid conflicts of interest, Dang said.
Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉), who is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the university, said current rules only considered health risks under average weather conditions and failed to take into account the potential health risks associated with extreme weather, which is becoming increasingly frequent.
However, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) said he did not think conflicts of interest would arise if the individuals stipulating the assessment methodologies were EIA committee members.
“As they made the rules, they certainly would know if the correct methodologies were followed,” Shen said.
“What we should review instead is the results,” he said.
Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) said total risks should be the sum of the background value and the threat increase created by a new project.
A proposal by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to permanently ban sitting in Taipei Railway Station’s main hall has received a mixed reaction online, with some social media users vowing to launch a sit-in at the station. Gatherings at the hall have been prohibited since Feb. 29 in accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s policy of reducing crowd sizes in public places. A Facebook user organizing the sit-in said that the hall is a public space and there is no legitimate reason to ban sitting on the floor. He said he suspected that the proposal was made due to business considerations and
Chinese over-the-top (OTT) service provider iQiyi cannot register as a provider in Taiwan after the Mainland Affairs Council declared it to be an illegal service, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday. Both iQiyi and WeTV were deemed to be illegal Chinese OTT operators in an interdepartmental meeting on Friday last week, officials said, adding that this prohibits them from marketing their services in Taiwan or seeking subscribers. The government plans to block a local server that iQiyi has been using to transmit content to domestic audiences, which would disrupt its content transmission. OTT Entertainment Ltd, which is enlisted by iQiyi to
The Taipei Grand Mosque yesterday said its earlier decision to cancel Eid al-Fitr celebrations on Sunday to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan would stand, even though there have been no new domestic cases of COVID-19 in more than a month. It will be the first time in 60 years that the event has not be held at the mosque. The Ministry of Labor had asked all mosques to suspend Eid al-Fitr celebrations and prayers this year, due to COVID-19 concerns, and encouraged Muslims to pray at home. This year Ramadan began on April 23 and is to
KAOHSIUNG VOTE: A city official allegedly wrote a message calling on supporters of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu not to participate in the vote next month Prosecutors on Wednesday initiated an investigation of Kaohsiung Civil Affairs Bureau Director-General Tsao Huan-jung (曹桓榮) for allegedly telling supporters of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to interfere with a recall vote against Han, while pan-green politicians denounced the mayor and his team for devising ways to obstruct voting. After receiving complaints from residents, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office launched its probe of Tsao for alleged breaches of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法). Complainants provided evidence that Tsao on Saturday last week wrote on messaging app Line that Han supporters should not vote in the June 6 recall vote, saying: