Kaohsiung, Dec. 11 (CNA) The Kaohsiung City government pledged Wednesday to continue to push China Steel to speed up its efforts to reduce emissions to improve air quality following a local media report that named the largest steel maker in Taiwan as the country's No. 1 source of air pollution.
Citing air pollutant emissions data from June to December 2018, the Chinese-language Apple Daily ran a front page story Wednesday that lists the top 10 air pollution sources in Taiwan.
The state-run company emitted a total of 1.18 million kilograms of PM2.5 and PM10 particulates during the six-month period, according to the report.
PM2.5 and PM10 particulates are considered dangerous because they are minute enough to travel deep into the lungs and are often loaded with toxic compounds such as heavy metals.
Asked to comment, the Kaohsiung-based China Steel said in a statement that it is continuously improving its emission reduction efforts and had spent NT$67.8 billion (US$2.2 billion) as of 2018 to build new facilities that reduce pollutants and emissions.
The investment has proved successful as it has reduced particulate emissions by 89.69 percent and sulfur oxides emissions by 76.57 percent compared with the emission data from 1977, when the Kaohsiung plant began operations, the company said in a press release.
It has also been building indoor coal storage areas since July and replacing aging coke refining ovens with new, more efficient ones, the company said.
The Kaohsiung City government, which is in charge of supervising China Steel, meanwhile, said it has continued to ask China Steel to improve its emission reduction efforts.
Recent inspections show that China Steel's emissions are all within the maximum allowable levels issued by the government, but the city government said these levels were set years ago and were designed to be lenient, in order to encourage heavy industries to continue to base themselves in Taiwan.
The city is considering lowering the maximum allowable levels to pressure polluting companies to speed up their emission reduction efforts.
The other air pollution sources in the top 10 list, are, in order, the coal- fired Taichung Power Plant; the Hualien plant of Asia Cement Corp; the gas-fired Da-Tan power plant in Taoyuan; Taichung-based Dragon Steel Corp; Kaohsiung-based Hai Kwang Enterprise Corp.; the coal-fired Hoping Power Plant in Hualien; Formosa Plastics Group's sixth naphtha cracking plant in Yunlin County; the coal-fired Hsinta Power Plant in Kaohsiung; and Taiwan Cement Corp.'s Yilan plant.
The gas-fired Da-Tan plant in Taoyuan is the only power plant on the top 10 list that does not run on coal.
However, it produces nitrogen dioxide, part of a group of gaseous air pollutants produced as a result of road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion processes.
Its presence in the air contributes to the formation and modification of other pollutants such as ozone, particulate matter and acid rain.
Meanwhile Wednesday, the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan that has been in place since December 2017 had reduced the emissions produced by government-run companies, including China Steel, by 18.2 percent as of the end of 2018 compared with the figures from 2016.
Among these companies, China Steel cut its emissions by 14.8 percent in 2018 compared with the previous year, it added.
The state-run Taichung Power Plant also took steps to cut its coal consumption by 24.2 percent in 2018 compared with the figure of a year earlier as part of efforts to help reduce pollution in the central city, the EPA said.