Mon, May 08, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taichung fines CAPCO NT$1 million for air pollution

ACIDIC ODOR:After complaints from residents in six districts triggered an investigation, officials found that an oxidation reactor at a CAPCO plant had malfunctioned

Staff writer, with CNA

China American Petrochemical Co (CAPCO) was fined NT$1 million (US$33,132) on Saturday for contaminating the air in the coastal areas of Taichung by leaking chemical substances, Taichung Environmental Protection Bureau officials said.

Residents on Friday complained that the air in Wuci (梧棲), Longjing (龍井), Shalu (沙鹿) and Dajia (大甲) districts as well as Situn (西屯) and Shengang (神岡) smelled acidic, the bureau said.

An investigation confirmed that the source of the smell was the local CAPCO plant, which produces purified terephthalic acid, a raw material used in polyester fiber and chips, the bureau said.

The plant is a joint venture between British oil and gas company BP and CPC Corp, Taiwan.

The investigation found that an oxidation reactor in the plant was malfunctioning, allowing acetic acid and other chemical compounds to leak out, the bureau said.

The leak affected the health of people in several areas, but plant officials did not report the leak or take emergency measures, it said.

The company was asked to suspend operations and did so, but later on Friday night it secretly resumed operations, the bureau said, adding that the plant was again ordered to suspend operations.

CAPCO disregarded the public’s rights and was therefore fined NT$1 million for violating the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣汙染防制法), the toughest possible penalty, the bureau said.

Also on Saturday, Pingtung County Councilor Chiang Yueh-hui (蔣月惠) reported an alleged pollution incident in Pingtung City’s Cianjin Borough (前進).

Water in a ditch was found to be dyed red, allegedly because workers at a nearby food factory were either illegally making anticoagulants for medical use or cleaning pig intestines for use in sausage-making, Pingtung County Environmental Protection Bureau Director Lu Tai-ying (魯台營) said.

Water samples from the ditch and other samples from the factory were taken for examination, Lu said.

The bureau will issue a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$3 million to the factory owner for polluting the environment, Lu added.

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