A coal-fired power station and Dragon Steel Corp, which are the biggest sources of air pollution in Taichung, should create emissions reduction plans and implement measures to cut air pollution, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said on Friday.
The two facilities should collect straw from farming households, a practice Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) implemented, so that farmers do not have to burn straw, which exacerbates air pollution, he said.
TSMC pledged to purchase 1,000 tonnes of straw from farmers every year at an environmental impact assessment meeting to review its expansion plan for an 18-inch wafer foundry, which was passed in March.
Citing data published by the WTO, Tsai said burning 1 hectare of straw produces 42.6kg of large particulates, 9 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 34.8kg of particulates measuring less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5).
He said that there are about 6,000 hectares of straw along Taichung’s coast and burning them creates a grave threat to residents’ health.
In addition, the resulting fumes often reduce visibility and pose a danger to drivers, he said.
If the two firms do not respond to his requests in a responsible manner, Tsai said he would lobby to boycott budget requests submitted by the two firms in the upcoming legislative session.
Tsai said that over the years, the firms have caused serious pollution in Taichung’s coastal regions and sparked countless protests and have responded with an “arrogant” attitude by not proposing any emissions reduction plans.
Apart from buying straw from farmers, the facilities should replace outdated emissions-intensive equipment at their sites, he said.
Since the Taichung City Government started fining individuals for burning straw, farmers have resorted to cutting straw into small pieces and letting it rot naturally, he said, resulting in clogged drainage systems during heavy rain.
The best solution would be for the two facilities to purchase straw from local farming communities, Tsai said.
DPP Taichung City Councilor Chen Shih-kai (陳世凱) criticized the facilities, saying that not only have they not helped to improve the livelihoods of Taichung’s residents, but they have driven up the city’s carbon dioxide emissions.
The problem is especially rampant in the Longjing District (龍井), which has prompted many to move away from their neighborhoods, he said.
In response, the Taichung power station said that it requires the consent of Taiwan Power Co, its parent company, before it can work out any deal with farmers to purchase straw.
TSMC also launched a pilot project subsidizing farmers for purchasing organic bacterial manure to degrade straw rather than buying them, the firm said.
TSMC is still evaluating the viability of purchasing straw, as the Taichung City Government has not yet proposed any accompanying measures to assist with the matter, it said.
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