About a dozen residents from Greater Kaohsiung’s Dalinpu (大林蒲) area and environmental groups yesterday submitted a petition to the local government, urging it to investigate the source of the area’s high levels of air pollutants benzene, ethylbenzene and phenylethene.
The residents gathered in front of the Greater Kaohsiung Council building yesterday morning to hand their petition regarding air quality in Siaogang District (小港) to local government officials.
The residents said the area is surrounded by Taiwan Power Co’s power plant, China Steel’s steel mills, CPC Corp, Taiwan’s Dalin refinery plant, and several other factories and incineration plants, meaning that they have been exposed to various pollutants for a long time.
Data provided by the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) air quality monitoring stations show that the concentration levels of several volatile organic compounds in the area are the highest in the nation, they said.
A member of the Taiwan Alliance for the Protection of Water Resources surnamed Huang (黃) said the EPA’s monitoring station is located at an elementary school on the upwind side of the industrial area, but still detected high levels of pollutants, suggesting that the air pollution problem is very serious.
Hung Fu-hsien (洪富賢), a Dalinpu borough chief, said the average concentration levels of benzene, ethylbenzene and phenylethene detected by the monitoring station last year were 0.91 parts per billion (ppb), 0.575ppb and 0.31ppb respectively, which are even higher than the levels detected at Yunlin County’s Taisi Township (台西), which is near the No. 6 naphtha cracker complex.
Hung said residents are worried that the cancer occurrence rate in Siaogang may top that of Taisi, so they are asking the city government to investigate the main sources of air pollution, make the companies concerned stop their operations and conduct an epidemiological survey in the area.
Greater Kaohsiung’s Environmental Protection Bureau said that EPA data show that air quality in the special municipality have dropped from 4.99 percent in 2010 to 3.21 percent this year.
The bureau added that it would conduct inspections and patrol programs to check and monitor the nearby plants for any illegal emissions.
Bureau Director-General Chen Jin-de (陳金德) said Greater Kaohsiung has the highest density of industrial areas and worst air dispersion conditions, so it has the worst air quality in the nation.
However, the bureau has set stricter regulations to control volatile organic compound emissions, he said.
The bureau has also asked the EPA and the Industrial Development Bureau for funding to conduct a health risk assessment in the area and collect sufficient data to improve pollution reduction plans, he said.