Fri, Dec 29, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Kaohsiung to tightly regulate pollutant emissions along Houjin River system

By Chen Wen-chan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Kaohsiung City Government is stepping up efforts to curb pollution in the Houjin River (後勁溪) by introducing general control of ammonia nitrogen emissions and a ban on ammonium chloride use at all factories in the area, after a proposal to that effect received central government approval on Tuesday.

Legislation to introduce the measures is to be promulgated by 2020, making Houjin River the only river area in southern Taiwan to be regulated by restrictions on chemical use as well as wastewater emissions.

The Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau cited two main sources of pollution — the Renwu Industrial Zone (仁武), located upstream and home to more than 100 factories producing regulated materials and household sewage.

High ammonia nitrogen content in the river directly lowers dissolved oxygen levels, killing large numbers of fish, the bureau said.

The river system is at great risk, as it is not part of a tap water protection zone and the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法) does not regulate the amount of ammonia nitrogen permitted in wastewater, the bureau said.

The presence of electroplating factories upstream contributes directly to the amount of ammonia nitrogen in the environment, which in turn affects farmland irrigation and limits possible waterside activities for the public.

In response, the bureau is placing the entire Houjin River system under quantitative control for chemicals under Article 9 of the act.

According to the article, if local water systems are found not to meet water quality requirements stipulated in the Effluent Standards (放流水標準), special municipalities are to draw up wastewater control measures and have them approved by central government agencies.

The bureau said it would not only subject factories directly along Houjin River to strict emissions standards, but also factories upstream of the Shihlong River (獅龍溪) and Cingpu Ditch (青埔溝).

Ammonium chloride is to be banned at all factories in the area, but they would be permitted to substitute ammonium chloride with potassium chloride, the bureau said.

The limit for ammonia nitrogen in wastewater would be lowered to 20 parts per million (ppm) from 30ppm, the bureau said, adding that violators could be fined between NT$30,000 and NT$3 million (US$1,005 and US$100,536) under the Water Pollution Control Act.

With CPC Corp, Taiwan’s Kaohsiung refinery facing imminent closure and Formosa Plastics Group’s Renwu plant pumping its wastewater directly out to sea, water pollution in the municipality should see improvements, the bureau said.

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc has also agreed to shift terminal effluvia emissions downstream of the local Irrigation and Water Conservancy Association’s intake area, the bureau said.

As for household sewage, the Water Resource Agency said it has completed 50 percent of planned centralized wastewater piping along the Houjin River area and the sewage system’s length now exceeds Kaohsiung’s by 40 percent.

Wastewater from the Cingpu Ditch is to be diverted to aeration tanks for gravel contact oxidation treatment before being pumped back into the Houjin River, the agency said, adding that the process, which is estimated to be completed by August next year, would cut pollution in the river system by 25 percent.

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