Research has shown that air pollution from the nation’s sixth naphtha cracker, in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮), may increase the cancer occurrence rate in nearby townships, environmental groups said on Wednesday, urging the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to put a stop to it.
Taiwan Water Conservation Alliance spokesperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said the local environmental protection bureau’s monitoring data and a report by the National Science Council both showed that the cancer occurrence rate in Yunlin’s Taisi Township (台西), right next to the cracker, was more than 0.1 percent, while the rate in Taisi Village in Changhua County’s Dacheng Township (大城) — only 5km from the cracker — has reached 2.2 percent.
She said that 28 residents from Taisi Village’s total registered population of about 1,300 have been diagnosed with cancer since 2002 and although residents have difficulties finding evidence to prove that the cancers have been caused by pollution from the cracker, the council’s report showed that the benzene in Dacheng’s atmosphere comes mainly from the sixth naphtha cracker.
The report also said that benzene levels in Dacheng’s air can reach up to 5 parts per billion (ppb), which is much higher than the benzene levels in the air around the cracker, which the cracker reported at between 0.01ppb and 0.03ppb, she said.
Hsu Li-yi (許立儀), a resident and member of Taisi Village’s self-help association, said that residents have for more than 10 years, since the cracker was built, had to endure air filled with a chemical acid smell when the wind blows from the southwest — where the cracker is located.
It is like living in “a concentration camp filled with poisonous petrochemical gas,” Hsu added.
The groups urged the government to conduct a thorough epidemic survey in nearby areas, demand that the cracker improve its air pollution levels and disallow the cracker to expand.