To encourage enterprises to manage and operate their wastewater treatment facilities appropriately on their own as part of fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities, this year the EPA will continue to conduct and expand the Smart Management of Wastewater Treatment Trial Project, first implemented in 2021. Interested finishing and electroplating enterprises located in central Taiwan are openly invited to participate.
The EPA pointed out that many enterprises have invested substantially in installing wastewater treatment facilities and commissioned other enterprises or put employees in charge of operations to achieve compliance with wastewater treatment regulations. However, environmental law enforcement commonly found many cases in which enterprises were fined because poor wastewater treatment efficiency or improper operation of treatment installations led to effluent that did not meet standards. Statistics show that over the last five years (2017 to 2021), there was a total of 905 cases where the metal finishing and electroplating industry violated Article 7 of the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法). The total amount of fines imposed exceeded NT$462.36 million.
Enterprises often reported that they accidentally violated the regulations without knowing it. They did not know why they spent money on equipment and specialized manpower and were still unable to meet the standards. The EPA investigated the main causes and found that most of the enterprises were unable to detect equipment abnormalities in time. Most operators relied on past experience to operate, for example the usage of chemical agents, and could not ascertain wastewater treatment effectiveness in real-time. Once an abnormality occurs, it often leads to a discharge of water with pollutants that exceed standards, contaminating water bodies without being detected by the operators, who are then penalized.
To assist enterprises in ascertaining wastewater treatment effectiveness in real-time, last year the EPA began to implement a trial project on two electroplating enterprises that were willing to install smart monitoring equipment. When an abnormality in water quality was detected, the equipment would send an early warning notification (through Line, SMS, or email) to the operating personnel in the factory. The head of the enterprise would also simultaneously receive the notification as he/she could instruct the on-site personnel to take corrective action and remove the abnormality in time, and thus avoid being penalized. The set-up also came with the benefit of saving operating costs by adjusting the amount of chemical agents added.
The EPA emphasized that the main purpose of promoting the Smart Management of Wastewater Treatment Trial Project was not to monitor industries but to better enable enterprises to self-manage and detect changes in water quality, thus building a trend within the private sector of fulfilling the responsibility to protect the environment. The technology not only protects water environments but also prevents enterprises from being penalized, saving money and the Earth at the same time. This year, the EPA will expand the project to five enterprises to have them try the technology for free (including equipment installation, trials, and maintenance). Thus interested metal finishing and electroplating industries in Taiwan’s central region are encouraged to register quickly in order to participate in the project.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, July 2022
- Ministry of Environment