Thu, Aug 20, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Rallies held over ash in Kaohsiung

AIRBORNE ASH:Residents of Kaohsiung’s Siaogang District said that ash from a nearby iron ore storage site had blown into their homes and turned into an oily dust

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Smoke belches out of a chimney at an industrial complex in Kaohsiung in an undated photograph.

Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times

Environmental groups and residents of Kaohsiung’s Siaogang District (小港) yesterday rallied in front of Kaohsiung City Hall to protest against the ash they said had blown into their community from a China Steel Corp iron ore storage site.

Dozens of protesters assembled in front of the city hall in the morning, holding placards and covering their hands with ash that they said had blown from the company’s Siaogang District outdoor iron ore storage site into their homes.

The protesters demanded that Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) order the company to construct roofed storehouses to curb the ash leaking into the atmosphere, as Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) has done in his city.

In Taichung, following the passage of a city statute regulating the storage of coal, Taichung-based Dragon Steel Corp — a subsidiary of China Steel — recently announced a NT$9 billion (US$275.5 million) project to construct enclosed depositories to store its bituminous coal.

“Lin Chia-lung did it. Can Chen Chu do it?” Fight for Health Women’s Group Kaohsiung Chapter director Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀菊) said.

The airborne ash contains carcinogenic PM2.5 dust — airborne articles measuring 2.5 micrometers or less — which is detrimental to the respiratory system, Hung said, demanding that China Steel should be forced to relocate if it does not make the improvements.

Kaohsiung Healthy Air Alliance director Huang Yi-ying (黃義英) said that airborne ash from the China Steel facility has plagued Siaogang residents for a long time, and black, oily, shiny dust can be found in their homes, especially when the northeast monsoon wind is blowing in the winter.

Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau Senior Specialist Yang Hung-wen (楊宏文) said that China Steel would face fines if the ash collected by the residents originated at the company’s storage site, adding that the bureau would test dust samples collected at the site and its environs shortly.

Yang said that China Steel is legally required to control the amount of airborne ash, and if the company’s dust collection system is insufficient to stem the emission of ash, it has to work toward building enclosed storage sites.

However, China Steel said that a test conducted this April that compared the company’s ore ash with the dust collected by residents found that they were different substances.

China Steel said it has established 20m-high dust collecting nets and an automatic sprinkler system at the site, and it has sprayed stabilizers and taken other preventive measures, adding that it has contained 96 percent of airborne ash emissions.

The company said it is working toward constructing roofed depositories in the future, but it could not give a definite timetable given the enormity of the project.

China Steel said it is willing to commission a third party to conduct another test when the northeast monsoon is at its height to test the protesters’ claims.

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