Friday, December 23, 2011

Pollution: It's here, it's worsening

A friend of mine passed these four stories to me, outraged. The EPA is obviously doing a terrible job; indeed, it frequently sides with developers against the environment (for example). What can be done about these stories? She wrote:

"The following news stories, all recent, are extremely worrisome. You can buy organic fruit and vegetables or grow your own to avoid some of the exposure to toxins, but you cannot avoid breathing. How is it in anyone's best interest to encourage highly polluting and energy-intensive industries on a small island? Taiwan's power generation from coal-fired plants and nuclear power plants is killing us."

The translations are hers; the issues, everyone's.


Doctors rally after pollution survey - The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan --Taiwan's air quality ranked an abysmal 35 out of 38 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization (WHO), with Taipei at number 551 out of the 565 cities profiled, boasting an air quality on par with “smoker's paradise” Lebanon.


Taiwan uses too much pesticide, 5.5 times higher than that in the U.S. Pesticide residues are also too high. There are 541 types of approved pesticides in Taiwan. For every hectare of farmland Taiwan uses an average of 11 kilograms of pesticide. The average in the U.S. is 2 kilograms. These figures were published in a report from Taiwan's Control Yuan yesterday.
台灣使用農藥過量 高出美國5。5倍 蔬菜水果農藥殘留過多


Full report on the Orchid Island nuclear waste radiation issue


And this report from Taiwan's Environmental Information Center on the growing nuclear waste issue just at the No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
The EPA today (Dec. 21) organized a task force meeting to review a second set of changes to the spent nuclear fuel medium-term storage plan for the first No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. At a press conferences held immediately before the review meeting, north coast residents living near the nuclear power plant and environmental groups voiced their opposition to the continued dry storage facility of the No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant and called for the issue of setting a deadline for the spent nuclear storage to be included for discussion in this review meeting.
The plan for medium-term storage of spent nuclear fuel from the No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant was decided upon at the August 27, 2008 environmental impact assessment (EIA) meeting, the terms of which stipulates the removal of the spent fuel from the facility after 40 years of use and that the facility not become the long-term storage site. Environmental groups pointed out, however, that in December of last year (2010), the Radioactive Materials Management Bureau Chief of the Atomic Energy Commission, Chiu Hsi-tsung, directly said that he does not rule out the continued use of the facility after the 40-year period, which was confirmed at last month's November 28th nuclear waste policy EIA meeting. If the conditions stipulated in the first EIA cannot be guaranteed, the effectiveness of the environmental impact assessment process will come under doubt. Moreover, the current EIA review meeting does not even include an agenda item for discussing the time limit issue.
Environmental groups point out that from the start the government told the north coast residents that the nuclear power plant would be gone after 40 years. Later, the EIA concluding report on the No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant Dry Storage Facility for the spent fuel told the residents that the nuclear waste would be gone after 40 years. And now, the nuclear power plant is not gone and the nuclear waste will continue to be stored on-site past the deadline for removing it. The government's attitude of "just getting things approved without any regard for the future problems" - is this to say that the north coast residents have to wait perhaps several more 40-year periods?
The north coast residents now worry that the dry storage facility for the No. 1 nuclear power plant waste has not been completed and that the AEC has already admitted that it will continue to be used for storage past the deadline. Also, as the government does not appear to have solution to the final storage site problem, they are also worried that the medium-term storage site will become the final storage site for the spent nuclear fuel.

To this list she sent, I'd like to add another, the Alangyi Trail, pristine coast to be destroyed for a highway.
The Alangyi Trail, a 12km hiking trail along the Pacific coastline between Taitung County’s Nantian Village (南田) and Pingtung County’s Syuhai Village (旭海), is being threatened by the planned construction of Provincial Highway No. 26. A section of the planned highway would run alongside the trail.
Taiwan's construction-industrial state has metastasized into a giant tumor that is slowly killing its host by polluting land, water, and sky. The question is, when will the people of Taiwan say, enough!
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Anonymous said...

The pollution here really screws my eyes up and makes them feel dry and scratchy and bloodshot. Then again, I did sleep with some chick from Carnegie's a couple weeks ago so maybe it's not the air after all.

Gilman Grundy said...

They say roughly 25% of the air pollution in LA floats across the Pacific from Asia, and most of this is Chinese in origin. I wonder how much of Taipei's pollution comes from the mainland?

D said...

Something is wrong with this sentence: "Taiwan's air quality ranked an abysmal 35 out of 38 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization". Michael knows what it is.

Taipei is really the 15th worst city they surveyed? That sounds weird.

Where's the report?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps one reason Taiwan uses so much pesticide is that it is a subtropical/tropical island. That does not make the pesticides any less dangerous, but I wonder how Taiwan would compare to Florida instead of the US average (IIRC, Florida has a much higher pesticide use than the US in general). I also wonder how the pesticide use for plants suited to the tropics (bananas) compares to the pesticide use for plants less suited for the tropics (tomatos).

One thing that annoys me about most organic food stores in Taiwan is the copious use of plastic. They seem to use more plastic than the typical non-organic grocery store. Plastic is itself a major source of pollution. I wish they were more like the organic food stores I would shop at in California where it was possible to buy groceries without using plastic at all.


Michael Turton said...

FOARP, that's my perception. Another big chunk is the haze from the rivers, which kick up so much dust even in the 19th century the mountains were shrouded. But pesticides and nuke waste, alas, that's H. sapiens.


Anonymous said...

Powerful big companies here in Tainan have factories that bellows little smoke when sun is up but becomes super volcanoes at night!

They even allow farmers to plant in the vicinity.

No wonder that no one wants to buy their fruits and vegetables here locally and have to sell it to Taipeh and label it as maybe organic!


The mayor here is sleeping.