Environmental analysis provides strong scientific support and serves as the foundation for implementing environmental policies. The EPA is carrying out its environmental analysis work with two focuses: strengthening analysis capacity and enhancing the credibility of analysis data. Specific goals include formulating different types of standard analysis methods, strengthening the management of environmental analysis and testing organizations, implementing environmental quality and pollution source sampling and analysis, promoting environmental analysis quality assurance and quality control, and enhancing environmental analysis technologies.
Environmental analysis has always been a critical part of environmental protection. Precise and high-quality data serves as the basis for environmental regulation and standard formulation, environmental impact assessment (EIA) surveying, environmental quality monitoring, and environmental nuisance and pollution inspection and control. To enhance environmental analysis capacity and the credibility of analysis data, the EPA founded the Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL) on 10 January 1990.
The EAL was established to carry out the overall planning for environmental analysis affairs, standardize analysis methods, enhance analysis technology capacity, ensure the quality of the analysis data, manage environmental analysis and testing organizations, and guide or assist environmental agencies at all levels with their needs.
In light of the EPA’s “Be friendly to the environment” policy, there are two important EAL-related measures:
I. Enhancing analysis capacity with technology
I. Actively conducting assessments to better communicate with the public
Residents in the Dalinpu area requested to relocate their village as their health was at significant risk due to their proximity to several industrial areas. Concerned about their health, the EPA conducted for the first time a health risk assessment for the area’s residents based on actual pollutant exposures for a period of four quarters between 2017 to 2018. The EPA subsequently held a press conference on 26 April 2019 and issued a press release to present an assessment report. The entire report and data can be found on the EPA website with a downloadable link.
2. Swiftly identifying pollution sources to dispel public doubts and anxiety
To quickly identify the pollution sources and transmission paths when major dioxin pollution incidents happen in the future, the EPA has compiled the original data on dioxin collected by the EAL between 2001 and 2018 and set up a new inquiry and statistics system.
3. Properly using scientific methods to add values to analysis data
The EAL has since 2016 been working on developing and verifying identification technologies and analysis models concerning rivers and has collected and accumulated water quality and pollution source discharge data on ten rivers in the nation. In 2019, the EPA set up river water environment information and map webpages and established pollution source identifying models to find potentially polluted rivers. This way, the distribution and profiles of materials causing abnormalities can be determined when abnormal discharges or unusual monitoring data appear, and the corresponding discharging industries can be targeted to assist pollution source tracking and containment.
II. Strengthening source control and supervision with environmental analysis and improved data credibility
1. Enhancing inspection and verification by the authorities
Since 2019, the EAL has been working with the Bureau of Environmental Inspection to carry out extensive audits by implementing the Quality Control and Audit Project Concerning Regular Industry Inspection, Reporting and Testing. The operation and testing data of stationary sources are examined to determine whether there are forgeries or false data in past analysis reports. If needed, further examination and comparison of previous records of analysis organizations that carried out the said analyses would be conducted.
2. Harsher penalties for deliberate violations or repeat offenses
The EAL is revising the Environmental Analysis Organization Management Regulations (環境檢驗測定機構管理辦法) by adding penalties concerning spurious analysis, breaching of analysis methods or management guidelines by analysis organizations, or other major offenses. Stipulations concerning the liability of analysis reports’ signatories were also added. The revised regulations have now entered the legislative procedure.
3. Evaluating the system and amending regulations or formulating special laws
To improve analysis data’s credibility and establish a comprehensive environmental analysis and testing system, the EAL has drafted the Environmental Analysis Act (環境檢測法) to regulate analysis operation and practitioners. The completed draft has already entered the legislative procedure and will be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for review once the Executive Yuan approves it.
In line with the Executive Yuan’s mid-term goals and approved budget, the EPA has formulated a policy implementation plan based on the current social condition and the EAL's future development needs. The targets include:
1. Formulating standard environmental analysis methods: adding, revising and announcing standard environmental analysis methods for all types of pollutants.
2. Strengthening the management of environmental analysis organizations
(1) Managing and assisting environmental analysis organizations to enhance data integrity.
(2) Promoting the informatization of environmental analysis operations and management of analysis organizations.
(3) Establishing a task delegation mechanism for laboratories of environmental agencies at all levels to carry out efficient pollution analysis and testing.
3. Implementing environmental quality and pollution source sampling and analysis
(1) Establishing high-efficiency environmental analysis capacity to carry out analyses based on the EPA’s policies and needs.
(2) Activating the environmental analysis and response system to provide timely analysis support in times of emergency.
4. Promoting environmental analysis quality assurance and quality control and enhancing environmental analysis technologies
(1) Promoting a system of environmental analysis quality assurance and quality control and continuing to participate in global certifications to increase public trust in environmental analyses.
(2) Building the environmental analysis research and development capacity and promoting the collaboration of research institutions at home and abroad.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (9)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)