Members of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee yesterday urged the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to step up its efforts to curb water pollution and PM2.5 air pollution caused by petrochemical complexes.
PM2.5 is an indicator of fine particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, a “Group 1” carcinogen listed by the WHO and a major air pollutant.
From October last year to last month, the central regions of Taichung and Changhua and Nantou counties had just 10 days when the PM2.5 index did not exceed level 6 — “intermediate” according to the administration’s Web site, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) said during a committee meeting to discuss risks to the environment and public health caused by petrochemical complexes.
Highlighting the severity of the pollution, Liu said that the PM2.5 level in Yunlin County’s Douliou Township (斗六) in January last year was 54 micrograms per cubic meter of air (mg/m3) and the annual average reached 34.4mg/m3, compared with the annual PM2.5 standard of 15mg/m3 recommended by the administration.
He asked EPA Minister Wei Kuo-yen (魏國彥) what efforts are under way by the administration to counter PM2.5.
Wei said that a cap was set last year on the overall air pollution in the Kaohsiung-Pingtung air quality zone, which limits the maximum permissible amount of factories in the region.
In addition, an intergovernmental platform uniting central and local agencies, in particular central Taiwan and Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan, has been established for all related agencies to update and streamline mitigation efforts, he said.
The administration would set up 10 survey stations at the sixth naphtha cracker, 10 in the Kaohsiung Linhai Industrial Park, eight in the Kaohsiung Linyuan Industrial Park and four in the Southern Taiwan Science Park this year to record the levels of PM2.5 and volatile organic compounds.
The administration is also improving monitoring efforts on PM2.5 caused by fugitive dust on riverbeds, fumes emitted by vehicles and activities such as burning ghost money and agricultural waste, he said.
DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said an investigation by the Yunlin County Government found more than 100 pollutants in the outflow from the sixth naphtha cracker, but just 24 were controlled by the administration.
She asked the administration to redouble monitoring efforts or the pollutants discharged into the water body will likely enter the food supply chain through freshwater fish, endangering public health.
Wei said that the administration needs some time to research possible pathways whereby the outstanding pollutants enter the food supply chain, and that it would ask local environmental protection agencies to monitor these pollutants.
He said that the administration would look into ways to include the unattended substances to its list of controlled pollutants from the petrochemical industry.
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