Members of an online team of “air pollution scouts” based in New Taipei City’s Yingge District (鶯歌) yesterday held their first formal meeting to discuss how to identify local pollution sources and prompt the local government to take action.
The district is known for the Yingge Ceramics Museum and many ceramic artwork stores on Yingge Old Street. Tourists with a taste for culture are often advised to visit Yingge and Sanxia District (三峽) on a one-day tour.
The district won third place at the 2012 International Awards for Liveable Communities (LivCom Awards) in the 75,001 to 150,000 residents category. However, local residents have started complaining about the “sour and pungent” smells emitted by nearby factories.
“Air pollution in Yingge might not be as serious as in Yunlin County or the nation’s center and south, but it is a nuisance we live with every day,” a team member surnamed Chang (張) said.
New Taipei City Environmental Protection Department officials have said the office is understaffed and cannot inspect the pollution sources people report, she said.
“We are not demanding the closure of factories, but we hope that factories could at least reduce their pollution by upgrading facilities,” Chang said.
Team founder Boco Zhang (張暄右) spent the past year searching for and identifying pollution sources “using his own nose” and founded the online community in November last year.
Working in Taipei as an architectural designer, Zhang could only work on the project in his free time.
On Sept. 23, when New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) came to the district to announce the opening of the second bridge connecting Sanxia and Yingge, Zhang unveiled a map that lists local polluting factories — most of which are asphalt, metal and fiber-dying plants.
“A number of polluting factories can be seen lying in a string from Tucheng Industrial Park (土城工業區), through Shulin District’s (樹林) Ganyuan Borough (柑園) to Yingge,” he said yesterday.
The team is still short-handed, and it needs more monitoring data and civil empowerment training, Environmental Rights Foundation chief executive Tu Yu-wen (涂又文) said, adding that she first met Zhang at a march against air pollution earlier this year.
Polluting industries have deep ties to politics, but that does not mean young people should grow up in a polluted environment, Tu said.
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