Sat, Jun 17, 2017 - Page 3 News List

EPA urges upgrades to plants and harbor to curb air pollution

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Industrial plants in central Taiwan should cut acidic pollutant emissions by upgrading their facilities, Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) officials said yesterday after analyzing data from nine air quality measurement stations near the sixth naphtha cracker.

The air quality in central and southern Taiwan is often worse than in other regions, especially from October to March, when stagnant weather keeps pollutants from dispersing, EPA Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management Director-General Chang Shuenn-chin (張順欽) said.

Regulating emissions of airborne PM2.5 — particles measuring 2.5 micrometers or less that are small enough to penetrate the lungs — is difficult due to a complex molecular makeup, Chang said.

To more accurately identify the sources of PM2.5, the department in November last year and February gathered data from nine air quality measuring stations in Changhua, Yunlin and Chiayi counties, he said.

The nation’s sixth naphtha cracker represents the greatest concentration of factories in the area covered by the nine monitoring stations, he said, adding that the station in Yunlin’s Mailiao Township (麥寮) is the closest to the complex.

PM2.5 levels in Mailiao were found to be similar to those in Yunlin’s Taisi Township (台西), but the air in the latter contained a higher level of sulfate, which accounted for 20 percent of the particles measured, Chang said.

The northeastern monsoon in winter carries air pollution from the naphtha cracker in Mailiao to Taisi, he added.

Factory emissions contain higher levels of sulfurous substances if their flue gas desulfuration process is inadequate, Chang said, citing EPA data collected from exhausts of a coal-fired power plant at the complex.

Upgrading power generation facilities is one of the objectives of the Executive Yuan’s 14+N air pollution prevention policy, EPA Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Director-General Tsai Hung-teh (蔡鴻德) said.

The agency encourages power plants to install wet electrostatic precipitators that can prevent fine particulate matter from diffusing into the air, he said.

Asked whether the sixth naphtha cracker was being specifically targeted for environmental assessments, Tsai said the pollution levels of other power plants would also be evaluated.

The agency also intends to reduce the air pollution generated by ships, he added.

Ships arriving at the nation’s ports, such as Mailiao Industrial Port, would have to slow down to reduce consumption of diesel, while ship owners would be required to present International Air Pollution Prevention certificates, Tsai said.

In conjunction with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the EPA is to promote the installation of power generation systems at ports, allowing ships to use electricity generated on land instead of diesel-powered generators when moored, he said.

The EPA said it could not provide a timetable for implementation of the new rules, as collection of data on ships is ongoing.

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