A record-high number of waste collection vehicles have been equipped with an Environmental Protection Administration GPS tracking system to monitor the flow of toxic materials and deter illegal disposal.
The EPA yesterday said its GPS system was fitted in a total of 8,888 trucks in the nation as of last year, a significant increase from 270 vehicles in 1992, following an amendment to the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法) that requires vehicles transporting regulated waste to install the GPS tracking device.
The 8,888 trucks account for 64 percent of all vehicles in the nation that transport regulated waste, with those containing the GPS system shipping 14 million tonnes of industrial wastes last year, Department of Waste Management Director Wu Sheng-chung (吳盛忠) said.
Regulated waste includes 267 types of industrial waste, such as chemicals, sludge, solution, medical waste and animal corpses, while reusable waste, including slag and waste building materials, represents a majority of industrial waste transported, or 9.3 million tonnes.
The tracking system detects about 10,000 suspected violations every year, according to vehicle activity and route analysis. About 0.9 percent of suspected violations can be verified, while most violations involve illicit transportation of dead pigs, Wu said.
Twenty-nine percent of trucks equipped with the GPS system are in central Taiwan, while 27 percent are in southern regions and 20 percent in northern regions, which matches the distribution of industries in the nation.
Local environmental agencies can enter an illegal dumping hotspot into the system, which issues a warning any time a vehicle with a tracking device enters the hotspot, with 1,300 hotspots nationwide already in the system, Wu said.
However, when questioned by reporters over the tracking system monitoring the flow of regulated waste from their sources to processors and recyclers, but being unable to detect subsequent transportation and illegal dumping by untrackable vehicles, Wu said that the system is not flawless.
“The system can only be used to monitor registered vehicles, but it is more or less powerless against intentional violators, who can hire unregistered vehicles to transport waste undetected. However, the practice is illegal and liable to heavy punishment, while we are planning a new tracking device with new technology,” he said.
Wu said the new device could not be revealed yet and urged waste processors to abide by the law.
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