In response to seasonal reduced air quality in western Taiwan in the fall and winter, the EPA joined forces with seven cities/counties to hold the first joint air quality inspections for this year. Participating cities/counties included Changhua County, Yunlin County, Chiayi County, Tainan City, Kaohsiung City, and Pingtung County. In light of the fact that ozone often exceeds the recommended limit in October, the inspections were held on 12-14 October 2020 and mainly focused on auditing emission sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are considered ozone precursors. A total of 31 public and private premises across seven cities/counties were audited. The EPA found three violations during the inspections and estimates that fines totaling NT$1,670,000 will be issued.
Due to poor dispersion of pollutant emissions caused by the northeast monsoon and topographic effects, air quality in western Taiwan usually worsens during fall and winter months, with increased levels of particulate matter and ozone emissions. The inspections this year focused on ozone precursors and first targeted the petrochemical industry. During the inspections, the Chiayi County Environmental Protection Bureau conducted thorough audits of the air quality deterioration control plans of businesses, such as the Hsinkang Plant of Formosa Plastics Corporation. The Yunlin County Environmental Protection Bureau checked for VOC leaks and implemented comprehensive audits of the Sixth Naphtha Cracking Plant Complex. The Kaohsiung City Environmental Protection Bureau also checked for VOC leaks in government-owned enterprises such as CPC Corporation and discovered two violations (the highest value detected was 67,571 ppm while the limit is 2,000 ppm). The Tainan City Environmental Protection Bureau carried out inspections in eight districts, among which they found a factory in Shanhua District that had been emitting high concentrations of VOCs through illegal channels, and penalties have been issued accordingly. In addition, Chiayi City, Changhua County, Pingtung County, and the EPA’s Bureau of Environmental Inspection completed various other inspections.
The EPA stated that VOC exceedances have always been the most detected violations in petrochemical plant leak inspections. However, among the 3,400 leak inspections conducted in 31 petrochemical plants this time, only one plant exceeded the limit. This result shows that with the continuous inspections and audits conducted by the environmental authorities, businesses have gradually improved the VOC leak problems.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (11)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)