Several draft amendments to the Toxic Chemical Substances Control Act (毒性化學物質管理法) yesterday passed their first reading at the legislature, and would require more plant operators with chemical substances to submit floor plans of their factories to local governments.
The issue of chemical management has received renewed attention since a deadly fire at Chin-Poon Industrial Co’s (敬鵬工業) printed circuit board factory in Taoyuan on April 28 killed six firefighters and two Thai employees.
Members of the Legislative Yuan’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee yesterday met to review the draft amendments, after requiring governmental agencies to report on the management of chemicals on Monday last week.
Most draft amendments passed the first reading smoothly, while eight clauses and certain motions proposed by lawmakers were reserved for subsequent cross-party negotiation.
Due to its work with thiourea, an acid listed as a potentially toxic substance, the Chin-Poon factory had been required to submit its chemical storage plans to the Taoyuan Department of Environmental Protection, Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Toxic and Chemical Substances Bureau Director-General Hsieh Yen-ju (謝燕儒) said yesterday.
The requirement for companies to provide floor plans is not new policy made in the wake of the Chin-Poon accident, Hsieh said, but added that its scope would be expanded.
The management of chemicals is currently divided among various governmental agencies, but if draft amendments are passed, the Cabinet would establish a national board for chemical management, with the EPA serving as the board’s adviser, he said.
In addition to companies using toxic chemicals, those using chemicals that are not toxic, but potentially harmful to human health would also be required to submit their chemical storage plans to local governments, he said.
Apart from presenting their disaster plans to local governments, companies that use chemicals should also post the plans on designated Web sites for members of the public to access, as required by a resolution launched by Chinese National Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) and accepted by the bureau.
While the EPA has been tracking the locations of vehicles delivering toxic chemicals, it should also evaluate if it is possible to make the information public, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Kun-yuh (吳焜裕) said in one of his motions, which were reserved for cross-party negotiation due to his absence yesterday.
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