The pollution emitted by Kaohsiung’s 20 largest factories has reached a record low, the Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau said yesterday, three years after the city adopted a pollution control program.
The program, proposed by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), aims to regulate 616 factories in Kaohsiung and Pingtung County that have been identified as major sources of air pollution in southern Taiwan.
The first stage of the program, which began on June 30, 2015, is to end this month, with the second phase starting next month.
As of last month, 428 factories in the city have reduced pollutants by a total of 3,139 tonnes, with an additional reduction of 300 tonnes expected this month, surpassing the original goal of cutting pollutants by 732 tonnes, bureau Director Tsai Meng-yu (蔡孟裕) said.
The sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions of the 20 largest factories, which contribute 80 percent of the city’s stationary pollution, were reduced by 20 percent to 30 percent from October last year to March, a record low for the period, he said.
As the sulfur oxide emissions of ships entering the Port of Kaohsiung contribute 20 percent of the city’s total sulfur oxide pollution, vessels would be required to use fuel with less than 0.5 percent sulfur content from January next year, he added.
The city also promoted free rides on the MRT metropolitan rail system from December last year to February, a policy that is to be continued this year, Tsai said, adding that the city government might make changes to the plan.
Environmental groups had mixed reactions to the effects of the program’s first stage.
The program did not push factories to curb pollution, but instead allowed them to trade pollution in an unreasonable way, said Southern Taiwan Anti-Air Pollution Alliance convener Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華), who has called on the EPA to scrap the program.
The program’s pace of pollution reduction has been sluggish and its ratio for pollution trading is too lenient, Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan said, adding that the EPA should require the city to achieve the WHO’s annual mean standard of 10 micrograms per cubic meter for concentrations of PM2.5 — airborne particles measuring 2.5 micrometers or less.
In the second stage, which is to target 607 factories, the EPA would require each facility to achieve a specific pollution reduction goal, Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Director-General Tsai Hung-teh (蔡鴻德) said.
In response to issues raised by environmental groups and factories, the EPA is still refining the plan for the program’s second stage, which it would publish as soon as possible, he said.
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