On 20 March, the EPA revised and announced the Standards for Fuel Compositions of Mobile Sources (hereinafter the Standards). The revision added standards for marine vessel fuels and aircraft fuels to the original standards named Standards for the Composition of Automobile Gasoline and Diesel Fuels and tightened the standards for gasoline benzene content and diesel polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) content. The new standards, expected to take effect on 1 July 2020, are in line with and, in part, exceed the European and American ones.
The EPA noted that burning fuels leads to generation of pollutants like sulfur oxides and hydrocarbons and causes problems like odors, acid rain, and smog. Nations are increasingly tightening controls on mobile source fuel contents. Aiming to improve air quality, the EPA amended the existing standards and expanded the control targets so as to strengthen source control.
The newly added part concerning marine vessel fuels is aimed at the control of sulfur content. Fishing boats and other marine vessels are to switch from previous fuels with maximum 3.5% sulfur content to ones with 0.5% or lower sulfur content. This move improves air quality and shows Taiwan’s efforts to voluntarily follow international conventions.
The Commercial Port Law (商港法) has since 2019 mandated that international shipping vessels are required to switch to fuels with 0.5% or lower sulfur content after entering international commercial port areas. The data of air quality monitoring stations in Keelung and Siaogang, Kaohsiung show a 29% and 45% drop in sulfur dioxide concentration in the air respectively between 2018 and 2019.
The Standards, after taking effect, will require all vessels and fishing boats to use fuels of 0.5% or lower sulfur content, and are expected to cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 5,229 metric tons. The EPA further estimated a 9% and 16% drop in sulfur dioxide concentration in the air of Keelung and Siaogang respectively between 2019 and 2020.
The EPA stated that it will conduct inspections on all vessels in industrial ports, special loading docks, fishing ports, international and domestic commercial ports and other waters. The operation will be jointly carried out with the Ocean Affairs Council, the Coast Guard Administration, and local environmental bureaus.
Although it is not a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Taiwan voluntarily abides by the regulations concerning low-sulfur fuels under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). This has not only significantly improved air quality but also helped Taiwan’s ports maintain excellent reviews among its peers around the globe.
The Standards have also lowered the maximum sulfur content in aircraft fuels from 0.3% to 0.2%, 1/3 stricter than previously and surpassing the standards of many countries.
As for gasoline and diesel used in land transportation, the carcinogens benzene and PAHs that can affect the environment and human health are subject to tighter control. The maximum benzene content in gasoline has been tightened from 1% to 0.9%, and the maximum PAH content in diesel from 11% to 8%. The revision was to safeguard air quality and protect human health by reducing the risk of exposure to carcinogens.
The EPA stated that, with the Standards for Fuel Compositions of Mobile Sources taking effect in on 1 July 2020, CPC Corporation (CPC), Formosa Petrochemical Corporation (FPC), and other fuel providers will begin to provide products compliant with the latest standards. Users of all transportation vehicles are urged to use such products instead of recycled or mixed fuel products of unknown origins to help improve the air quality. Moreover, in an attempt to improve recycling technology and develop high-value applications, the EPA has been working with industry and academia on developing continuous waste tire devulcanization recycling technologies. These technologies can be used to produce high-quality recycled rubber suitable for making various rubber products. The next step is collaborating with factories for mass production to further diversify processing technologies, increase reutilization values, and create more green business opportunities.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (4)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)