Naphtha emissions underestimated: groups

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 - Page 3

Several environmentalists protested at the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday morning, saying that the calculations used to assess levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) emitted by the nation’s sixth naphtha cracker in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮) had led to emissions being underestimated.

Taiwan Water Conservation Alliance spokesperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said that based on the revised proposal for expansion of the nation’s third naphtha cracker that state-owned oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC) submitted for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in 2009, annual VOC emissions from 141,435 equipment components at the plant totaled 1,300 tonnes.

However, a survey in April by Yunlin County Government’s on the sixth naphtha cracker — which is owned by Formosa Petrochemical Corp — found that the VOCs emitted by more than 160,000 equipment components at the plant last year was only 811 tonnes, Chen said, adding that the alliance suspects that the number is much too low.

Chen said the discharge coefficients used in calculating the two plants’ VOC emissions were not the same, and if the sixth naphtha cracker uses the same standards as the third, emission levels would likely be much higher than the levels reported.

In addition, as an EIA ruling last year demanded the plant include VOC emissions from five listed items in its total emission calculations for the 4.7 phase expansion project, the alliance said it was unreasonable that the Executive Yuan had accepted the company’s appeal to withdraw the ruling in December last year.

VOCs are considered to be human carcinogens, and air pollution from the plant has seriously affected residents’ health, Chen said, adding that residents and farmers have commissioned a lawyer to file an administrative lawsuit against the government’s decision.

The alliance urged EIA committee members to ensure that all VOC emissions are calculated according to the same discharge coefficients as used for the third naphtha cracker, in order to better protect the public from the risks of being exposed to carcinogens.