Reducing output from coal-fired power plants in Taichung and Kaohsiung is a welcome policy, but the effects are limited, environmentalists said yesterday, adding that marches against air pollution are to be held on Dec. 17.
The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) have reached an agreement to curtail coal-fired power generation starting this month to prevent air quality from worsening, EPA officials said.
Taipower cut 640 megawatts of generation at its Singda (興達) power plant in Kaohsiung on Monday last week, while on Tuesday it cut 730 megawatts at its Taichung plant and 610 additional megawatts at the Singda plant.
However, the air quality in central and southern Taiwan seems little improved, as most monitoring stations in Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties flashed red from Thursday to Saturday.
Preventive reduction is a good policy, but the amount is not enough, National Chung Hsing University environmental engineering professor Tsuang Ben-jei (莊秉潔) said on Saturday.
Taipower should shut down four coal-fired generators at its Taichung plant, so that the city’s concentrations of PM2.5 — carcinogenic particulate matter that measures about 2.5 micrometers — would be kept at safe levels, he said.
Moreover, EPA data for PM2.5 levels are about 15 percent lower than its real concentration level, since the agency manually samples and tests, meaning that the vaporization of a component of PM2.5 mass — ammonium nitrate — can reduce the data’s accuracy, he said.
It is regrettable that the EPA’s efforts to curb air pollution are offset by data inaccuracies, he added.
However, the effect of reducing power generation is not obvious, because of the limited time and amount, Taiwan Healthy Air Action Alliance researcher Hsu Hsin-hsin (許心欣) said yesterday.
Preventive reduction should come with supplementary measures such as asking pollution sources in a region to reduce operations when Taipower cuts generation, she said.
Southern Taiwan Anti-Air Pollution Alliance convener Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) called on China Steel Corp to update its facilities and on Taipower to replace coal with natural gas at its power plant in Kaohsiung’s Dalin Township (大林).
The alliances are to stage marches against air pollution on Dec. 17 in Taichung and Kaohsiung, and expect to draw 10,000 people to each city.
The effect of the reduction can hardly be quantified, but EPA data show it has helped improve air quality in central and southern Taiwan, EPA Deputy Minister Chan Shun-kuei (詹順貴) said.
The EPA is to identify major fixed pollution sources in those areas and ask them to curtail polluting emissions step by step, he said, adding that the detailed regulation is to be revealed in July next year.
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