In an effort to reduce the potential harmful effects of toxic waste, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday unveiled a new series of improved emergency hazardous material response vehicles which were designed in conjunction with the armed forces.
The EPA said that in 2009 it began working with the military to bolster existing hazard decontamination and cleaning facilities on its fleet of vehicles and adopted new features including pollution--proofing, wastewater recycling and on-board patient decontamination services.
The project cost NT$55.5 million (US$1.85 million) and the seven newly developed vehicles are 11.5m long, 2.5m wide and 4m high. They are all equipped with 1,000 liter water tanks, the EPA said.
Using a tunnel system to perform three stages of disinfection and cleanup involving contaminated people, the administration said that a staff of only two could operate the mobile facility if necessary. The vehicle can decontaminate between 90 and 120 people in one hour.
Yuan Shao-ying (袁紹英), -director-general of the Department of Environmental Sanitation and Toxic Substances, said the toxic hazard emergency response facilities used to be set up in tents which require more time and also make it difficult to collect polluted wastewater.
Yuan said the vehicles would be utilized in cases involving fires at petrochemical plants, where hazardous substances spread to neighboring communities. They would be able to quickly decontaminate residents, thereby reducing their exposure before going to hospital for more thorough decontamination.
The vehicles can also help detect radiation and deal with resulting contamination, while also equipped to handle any toxic leaks, and both chemical and biochemical hazards, the EPA said.
All seven vehicles are being handed over to the army for deployment nationwide.