Nearly 20,000 air pollution readings a year are labeled invalid due to facility maintenance or malfunctions, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday, rejecting accusations that it conceals or massages data for big polluters.
The Chinese-language Commonwealth Magazine (天下雜誌) on Tuesday last week reported that nearly two out of three pollution readings last year that exceeded legal standards were concealed in the EPA’s continuous emissions monitoring system.
The number of PM2.5 readings in the system that were labeled invalid increased from 20,640 entries in 2016 to 33,661 in 2017 and 39,456 last year, environmental group Air Clean Taiwan told a news conference yesterday, calling on the Control Yuan and judiciary to investigate whether the EPA was derelict in its duties.
The Legislative Yuan’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee would soon require the EPA to report on the matter, said Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國), one of the committee’s two conveners for the current legislative session.
Some air pollution readings are labeled invalid due to regular maintenance on the automatic monitoring devices at the agency’s 77 stations nationwide, EPA Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management Deputy Director Wang Yueh-bin (王嶽斌) said.
Last year, the agency recorded 17,314 entries with invalid data, down from 18,853 entries in 2017 and 21,943 in 2016, and lower than Air Clean Taiwan’s figures, because “no data” in entries means that PM2.5 was not tested for and the entries should not be counted, the department said.
The age of some monitoring devices — some are more than 15 years old — can contribute to data problems, Wang said, adding that the agency expects to update devices for measuring PM2.5 concentrations by the end of this year and those for measuring gaseous pollutants by next year.
Even so, available data rates reached 98.05 percent in 2017 and 97.88 percent last year, higher than the national threshold of 75 percent, which is based on US standards, he said.
EPA workers also manually collect air samples from 31 stations nationwide every three days for more careful laboratory testing, he added.
The emissions monitoring system records emissions from 313 exhausts at 108 factories in the cement, steel, waste disposal, petrochemical and paper industries, and the agency plans to tighten regulations governing reporting, Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control technical specialist Chen Yueh-shih (陳月詩) said.
All readings are kept in the system, even if some are labeled invalid, Chen said, adding that local environmental bureaus contact factories when they find unusual entries in the system.
Taiwan does not exclude the possibility of having formal diplomatic relations with countries that also have formal ties with China, regardless of Beijing’s stance, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said on Sunday. There was speculation in 2012 that Honduras was attempting to have simultaneous diplomatic relations with Taiwan and China, an idea that then-minister of foreign affairs David Lin (林永樂) rejected. Honduras severed formal ties with Taiwan on Sunday morning after establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing. President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has taken a more practical approach to relations with like-minded countries since assuming government in 2016. Previous administrations took the
WASHED ASHORE: Of the 16 bodies discovered along Taiwan’s west coast this month, two were Vietnamese and five were Taiwanese, coast guard officials said Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said that he has instructed prosecutors and maritime authorities to launch investigations after 16 bodies were found along Taiwan’s west coast this month, amid speculation that they were victims of smuggling or human trafficking rings. Coast Guard Administration (CGA) officials said the bodies, most of which had washed ashore, were found by coast guard personnel and local residents along the coastline from Keelung to Kaohsiung. Thirteen of the bodies are male and three are female, the CGA said, adding that items found on the bodies indicate that two of the men were Vietnamese, while three men
TASK FORCE DISPATCHED: MOFA said it would assist state employees with repatriation or relocation to other ally nations in the region after Tegucigalpa severed ties The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Monday ordered Honduras to vacate its embassy in Taiwan within 30 days of Sunday after Tegucigalpa made a similar demand of Taiwan. Taipei on Monday announced that it had cut ties with Honduras after the Central American nation earlier said in a statement that it had established ties with Beijing and ended its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. Following the announcements, Honduran Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Garcia spoke on Honduran television saying that Taiwan would be required to vacate its embassy in the Honduran capital. In Taipei, MOFA later told a news conference that “according
CHINA TRIP: The former president said he hoped the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would work together to pursue peace, avoid war and strive to ‘revitalize China’ Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday began a 12-day tour of China with a visit to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing. He paid tribute to Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), a founder of the Republic of China, giving a short speech and then bowing in front of the memorial. “The people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to the Chinese nation, are children of Yandi (炎帝) and Huangdi (黃帝),” he told reporters who had been allowed to follow him on the trip, referring to figures said to have founded of the Han ethnicity in ancient China. Ma has framed the trip as