Wed, Aug 30, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Pollution complaints to EPA on the rise

UP IN SMOKE:People or businesses caught burning plant matter or other garbage can be fined up to NT$1 million in accordance with the Air Pollution Control Act

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Last year 261,656 pollution complaints were filed nationwide, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday, adding that reports of people burning waste in public spaces are also on the rise.

Bureau of Environmental Inspection deputy director-general Lin Tso-hsiang (林左祥) said the agency received 84,949 reports about odors and 83,749 reports about noise, with the two categories accounting for about 64.5 percent of the reports.

Other complaints included 60,328 for poor sanitation, 12,099 for waste pollution, 10,311 for air pollution, 8,499 for water pollution and 1,721 for other forms of pollution, he said.

Among odor pollution reports, the agency received most complaints about burning things like garbage, industrial waste and plant matter, Lin said.

“People caught burning branches or plants can be fined between NT$5,000 and NT$100,000 [US$165 and US$3,311], while firms caught burning industrial items face fines of between NT$100,000 and NT$1 million, according to the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法),” he said.

Asked if the reports included complaints about burning joss paper, Lin said the agency did receive some, mostly from local communities near temples, but added that data were not available.

To curb air pollution, the EPA has been promoting reducing the burning of joss paper, setting off fireworks and lighting incense in religious practices.

It also encouraged people to burn joss paper collectively through the help of local bureaus, especially on Ghost Festival (中元節) on Tuesday.

However, some temples did not support the collective burning practice.

In an op-ed published by the Chinese-language Up Media on Saturday, Lin An-le (林安樂), chairman of Wude Temple (武德宮) in Yunlin County’s Beigang Township (北港), said “Burning the offerings like garbage is a humiliation to the gods.”

Lin was one of the organizers who convened about 100 temples to join the “religious carnival” in Taipei on July 23 to protest against a rumored government plan to ban the use of incense.

If the government continues to suppress traditional customs, another march might follow, Lin said.

The government has denied that such a ban was mooted.

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