Taipei, April 29 (CNA) Nantou Magistrate Lin Ming-chen (林明溱) has filed a complaint with prosecutors against state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), alleging that pollution from its Taichung Power Plant may be behind the high death rate from lung-related cancers in his county.
Taipower said it would cooperate fully with the prosecutors' investigation and hoped it would settle the controversy surrounding the coal-fired power plant.
Wearing a facemask to show his discontent with the negative effects of the longstanding emissions of air pollution from the power plant on the air quality in Nantou, Lin filed the complaint with the Nantou District Prosecutors' Office Monday against Taipower Chairman Yang Wei-fuu (楊偉甫) and Taipower President Chung Bin-li (鍾炳立), as well as the Taichung Power Plant.
Due to the persistent bad air quality, a high rate of the county's citizens succumb to lung adenocarcinoma and other forms of lung cancer, Lin said.
There is no major stationary source of air pollution in Nantou, and he has wondered why the air quality in the county has been bad for long, the county chief said.
That has led him and the county to suspect that the high concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in Nantou's air comes from the Taichung plant.
According to data collected by the county government, Lin said he suspects that Taipower is endangering public safety in accordance with Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code.
Lin expressed hope that prosecutors will launch an investigation and prod Taipower into reducing its coal-fired power generation and help improve air quality in Nantou.
Also on Monday, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) voiced her support for Lin's move, saying that the city is considering following suit and suing Taipower.
Lu said her city government fined the plant NT$20 million (US$647,005) earlier this month for releasing polluted industrial wastewater and demanded that it submit an improvement proposal within 30 days.
If it makes improvements to better control air pollution, the city government will deal with the matter rationally, Lu said.
Otherwise, it could take any of several measures against the plant, including continuing to impose stiff fines, ordering it to suspend operations, launching a lawsuit or demanding compensation.
In response, Taipower said that according to Ministry of Health and Welfare data, there are multiple factors that can cause cancer, including genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.
It contended that the power plant is not the main cause of air pollution or the major source of PM2.5 emissions in Taiwan because Taipower and all private power plants contribute only about 4.5 percent to 9.9 percent of the total PM2.5 emissions in the country.
The power plant has formulated plans to improve air quality in central Taiwan. In the short term, it will implement measures to reduce power output and waste emissions during periods of poor air quality, according to Taipower.
The company will also improve and upgrade 10 air pollution prevention facilities and establish an indoor coal storage warehouse. In the long term, it will build two natural gas powered generators, Taipower said.