Taichung mulls legal action against coal-fired power plant - Focus Taiwan

Taichung mulls legal action against coal-fired power plant

Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕, front, center)
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕, front, center)

Taipei, April 16 (CNA) The Taichung City government is considering following the example of Nantou County and suing state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), the owner of Taichung Power Plant, in an effort to force the plant to reduce its air pollution emissions, Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said Tuesday.

The city government fined the coal-fired plant NT$20 million (US$647,962) a day earlier for releasing polluted industrial wastewater and requested it submit an improvement proposal within 30 days.

Lu said the plant is the largest single stationary source of air pollution in central Taiwan and has recently been found to have repeatedly discharged polluted wastewater.

The city government will demand the plant address its pollution problem, Lu said, to do otherwise would be to fail in its responsibility to the residents of central Taiwan.

Due to the central government's flawed energy policy, there is no other option but to restart coal-fired power generation, ensuring the coal-fired power plant is the only based load power source in the region, Lu further said.

Although the plant has attempted to reduce the air pollution it produces with chemical substances, those have caused wastewater pollution, she noted.

Facing with air and water pollution, the city government decided to force the plant to make improvements and could yet order it to suspend operations, Lu said.

In addition to Taichung, the air pollution issue has also become a problem for the neighboring counties of Nantou and Changhua, according to Lu.

Taichung is considering follow in the footsteps of Nantou County and filing a lawsuit against the power plant, she said, pledging to take steps to protect the health of local residents.

On Monday, Nantou County Magistrate Lin Ming-chen (林明溱) said the country government has decided to file a lawsuit against the power plant for endangering public safety.

The suit is aimed at forcing the plant to reduce air pollution by cutting its coal consumption because while there is no major source of air pollution located in Nantou, air pollution in the county remains bad because of the plant, according to Lin.

In 2017, Nantou had 44 days of poor air quality, increasing fears that increased exposure could cause chronic diseases, Lin said, citing official statistics.

In October last year, before the November local elections, Lin proposed that the county government should file a suit against Taipower, demanding compensation of NT$1 million (US$32,394) for each of the 241 Nantou residents who died of lung adenocarcinoma in 2017.

In response, Taipower spokesman Hsu Tsao-hua (徐造華) said the company respects the local governments' decisions but the top priority at the moment should be improving air and wastewater pollution at the plant.

The company will submit an improvement plan to the Taichung City government by the end of the month, and its No. 1-2 generators have reduced power generation by 50 percent, with the operation of No. 3-4 generators suspended, Hsu said.

However, Taipower hopes to resume the operation of No. 3-4 generators at 25 percent capacity to maintain stable supply during summer peak power demand periods, Hsu said.

As to whether the relatively high fatality rate of lung adenocarcinoma is related to the Taichung Power Plant requires further scientific verification and analysis, Hsu added.

(By Su Mu-chun, Hsiao Po-yang, Lin Mo-zo and Evelyn Kao)

Enditem/AW

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