Those living along the coast of Changhua County are on edge and their discontent has been intensifying. A mega garbage incinerator is to be built in the Changhua Coastal Industrial Park (彰濱工業區) to handle the entire country’s industrial waste, but the area already has the highest density of incinerators nationwide.
In addition to the forthcoming incinerator, there are already six in operation. Worse, Changhua is between the coal-fired Taichung Power Plant in Longjing District (龍井) and Formosa Plastics Group’s naphtha cracker complex in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮).
The air pollution cannot be more serious. Dioxin and PM2.5 levels exceed the maximum allowed by regulations. The lung cancer mortality rate in Lugang Township (鹿港) and neighboring Fusing Township (福興) is 1.5 times higher than the national average. After the mega incinerator is completed, the situation will definitely get worse.
Cancer has been the leading cause of death in Taiwan for 40 consecutive years, and lung cancer has been the most common over the past 18 years, the Health Promotion Administration has said.
Academia Sinica research has also found that, as a result of air pollution, females are more prone to genetic mutations that can lead to cancer. Since 2020, the lung cancer mortality rate of women has been higher than that of men.
Improving air quality should be an urgent task.
The construction of the mega incinerator in Changhua has begun, but the contractor has already contravened the regulations. With a syndicated loan of NT$4.2 billion (US$136.9 million), this build-operate-transfer project is set to make Lugang’s air quality worse. The sky will become darker, as will the lungs of those living nearby.
Within 30 years, the number of lung cancer cases in Lugang has increased fivefold, and in Fusing it has risen eightfold. Having allowed a mega incinerator to be built in the area, officials have not once thought about residents’ lives.
Without communicating well with locals, the contractor and the officials launched the project saying that the environmental impact assessment process has been completed.
Perhaps the construction corporation is too powerful to be regulated by laws, and the government has been too arrogant to take public opinion into account.
Yeh Hsuen-che is a physician in Lugang Township.
Translated by Emma Liu
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