Wed, Mar 23, 2016 - Page 3 News List

One-tenth of gas stations polluted

FARMLAND:The EPA is also conducting a survey of agricultural land, with 21,000 out of a total 800,000 hectares nationwide suspected of being contaminated

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Almost 10 percent of the nation’s gas station sites are polluted, the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) Soil and Groundwater Remediation Fund Management Board said yesterday.

The board said it had completed a survey of the nation’s 2,700 gas stations and found pollution at 256 sites, 102 of which are still under control and undergoing remediation.

Soil pollution at gas stations is generally caused by leaking or rusty underground pipes or tanks, causing gasoline and other contaminants to spill into the soil, the board said.

“Operators of polluted gas stations have to propose and execute remediation measures at their own expense, and pollution sites cannot be traded until they are decontaminated,” the board’s Comprehensive Planning Section director Ho Ching-jen (何建仁) said.

While saying the percentage of gas stations that are polluted is small compared with that in the US, Ho added that remediation could take a long time, especially when groundwater pollution is involved, citing as an example a polluted gas station that has not completed soil restoration since it was identified as a pollution site in 2002.

The board will investigate sites that are highly prone to pollution, such as factories and airports, or sites highly vulnerable to pollution, including farmlands and groundwater recharge areas, to reinforce environmental protection, he said.

Meanwhile, an ongoing farmland pollution survey showed that about 21,000 hectares of the nation’s total of 800,000 hectares of farmland may be polluted.

The EPA has conducted tests at 12,000 hectares of potentially contaminated farmlands and found that 931 hectares are polluted, board executive secretary Lai Ying-ying (賴瑩瑩) said.

Among the polluted farmlands, 373 hectares remain unremedied, where all farming activities must be stopped, Lai said.

The EPA expects to complete its survey of the remaining 9,000 hectares of potentially polluted farmlands by 2019, she said.

“The overlap between irrigation systems and sewage systems is responsible for large-scale pollution incidents in Changhua County and Taoyuan — areas with the highest numbers of soil pollution sites. We have negotiated with relevant government agencies to completely separate irrigation systems from sewage systems and establish heavy metals control areas to improve pollution control,” she said.

The EPA has also established a groundwater observation well network consisting of 2,250 monitoring wells at areas susceptible to soil or groundwater pollution nationwide to ensure food and water safety, she said.

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