Long-time environmental campaigner Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) yesterday expounded on what she said are problems with environmental impact assessment (EIA) meetings, saying that health-risk assessments should be conducted in a more accurate and comprehensive manner, while calling on local governments to dutifully calculate the quantity of pollutants emitted.
Chen said that many EIA committee members readily accept emissions data provided by industrial projects, without really going through the data to analyze their veracity.
The committee should order corporations to calculate not only the emissions from plants that are slated for expansion, but also the total quantity of emissions from industrial complexes, as it is the only method by which pollutants can truly be capped and the concept of “overall amount control” be put into practice, Chen said.
“In doing so, local authorities can avoid areas where emissions are already heavy before a new project is proposed, and disputes can be avoided,” Chen said.
She called on local governments to be more proactive in matters related to the EIA, saying that they often only set emission caps according to the maximum permissible amount of emissions stipulated by the committee, while being negligent about their duties to measure emissions at plants, she said.
In addition, local environmental protection agencies should conduct their own health risk assessments at least once every two years and compare them with assessments conducted by project owners, rather than assuming that all the information in reports required from developers by the Environmental Protection Administration is true, Chen said.
In reference to research by National Taiwan University Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene professor Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權), which linked emissions from the naphtha cracker complex in Yunlin County to elevated chances of developing cancer, Chen said the EIA committee did not give the research the attention it deserves.
“All government-sponsored epidemiological studies should be treated with due respect and serve as important references during EIA meetings,” she said.
She called for a more clearly defined set of rules on how health risk assessments should be conducted, saying that the current rules have resulted in the lack of a standard operating procedure in approaches adopted by companies while conducting health risk assessments.
Chen, a professor at the Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science, is well-known for her active participation in EIA meetings and her unrelenting stance against firms in pollution-intensive industries.
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