Sat, Nov 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet urged to address pollution

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Chien-kuo, center, holds a news conference about the Air Pollution Control Act in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) yesterday urged the Cabinet to send an amendment to the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法) proposed by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to the legislature for review soon.

Even though the EPA’s amendment is not listed as one of the 72 priority bills for this legislative session, it should be reviewed as soon as possible, Liu said during a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan, which was also attended by DPP legislators Chung Kung-chao (鍾孔炤), Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) and Hung Tsung-yi (洪宗熠).

The proposal was sent to the Executive Yuan at the end of last month, but the Ministry of Economic Affairs expressed disagreement with some points, EPA Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Director-General Tsai Hung-teh (蔡鴻德) said.

The EPA proposed that it would only “notify” the ministry when it is to impose regulations on industrial emissions, while the ministry insisted the agency should still obtain its approval, he said, adding that the EPA would insist on its position.

Lawmakers and groups concerned about air pollution are to visit Premier William Lai (賴清德) in coming days, asking him to come up with a concrete response to the issue, Liu said.

Air pollution has led to “environmental injustice,” as people in the center and south breathe dirtier air, National Taiwan University College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said.

The EPA’s regulations are only superficial and it should introduce policies such as phasing out petroleum cokes in power generation by 2020 and raw coal by 2030, he added.

Scientific studies have confirmed the correlation between exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, reduced kidney functioning and other respiratory problems, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Director Guo Yue-liang (郭育良) said.

While government hopes to keep the yearly average PM2.5 concentration below 15 micrometers per cubic meter and 24-hour average below 35 micrometers per cubic meter, it should follow the WHO’s stricter standards, setting the yearly average at 10 micrometers per cubic meter and the 24-hour average at 25 micrometers per cubic meter, he said.

The nation last year did not meet the govenment’s target, as the average PM2.5 concentration last year was 20 micrometers per cubic meter, EPA data released last month showed.

The EPA should use part of its air pollution fund to undertake studies on the health of residents in or near industrial areas, the Southern Taiwan Anti-Air Pollution Alliance and other groups said in a statement after the meeting.

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