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Environmental Quality in Industrial Zones Improved via Water

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Of all the public complaints, odors caused by air pollution are one of the major nuisances. A special project has been carried out by the EPA since 2021 to target public complaints about odors from Dayuan Industrial Park. It has resulted in major improvement of the local air quality and a significant drop in complaints filed by residents through two years of monitoring, screening, evidence collection, and verification.

The EPA has always taken seriously the responses of residents around the industrial zones toward air pollution odors. Since 2021, a project has been carried out specifically to respond to complaints about odors in Dayuan Industrial Park. Measures adopted include screening pollution hotspots with Internet of Things (IoT) connected to a network of air quality sensors and far-end water monitoring, collecting evidence concerning pollution sources with technologies, and having inspectors conduct onsite visits.

Dayuan Industrial Park, along with its second-phase zone, has been in operation for over 40 years and sits right next to neighboring residential areas with no buffer zones in between. On December 2020, the local borough chief mentioned multiple times the burning and acidic-smelling odors and those of chemical solvents wafting out of the industrial park, so in January 2021 a special project was launched by the EPA to tackle this problem along with a chat group that was set up to allow residents to stay in contact with the chief in order to get a full grasp of the pollution.

Based on previous investigations, the EPA staff suspected that potential odor sources included air pollutants, and that contamination of water quality could probably have caused the acidic smells. The IoT, consisting of air quality sensors installed around the industrial zone was used to investigate air pollution, and possible pollution sources were detected near the borough chief’s residence, which is located between the industrial park’s first- and second-phase zones. Later the investigators pinpointed the potential pollution sources by using big data to analyze meteorological conditions, wind directions, wind speeds as well as studying changes in the air quality data obtained by sensors over 24 hours and during the week. In the meantime, air pollution was monitored with drones outfitted with equipment such as infrared thermal-imaging cameras, infrared gas sensors, 3D light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and vintage-point security cameras. At the same time, investigation on water pollution began with installing far-end water monitors in areas where enterprises discharge their wastewater, allowing inspectors to conduct integrating onsite inspections on both air pollution and wastewater at the time the borough chief reported that odors were found.

A total of 13 violations on air and water pollution were reported during the two years that the special project was conducted. The offenses included improper operation and maintenance of pollution prevention and control facilities as enterprises lacked necessary relevant expertise, inconsistency between permits and circumstances for facility operations, inconsistency between registered records and actual circumstances. More serious ones included discharging wastewater that had concentrations far exceeding the relevant standards. An enterprise was even found by the EPA during a joint investigation with Taoyuan City Environmental Bureau to have illegally dumped heavy metal-containing waste solvents at nighttime, which is now under further investigation by the Prosecutors’ Office.

Besides full utilization of technological tools, the EPA particularly thanked the local borough chief for providing necessary information as well as the locations to set up monitors. Collaboration with environmental bureaus and local residents will continue as will the monitoring of pollution. Enterprises are urged to do better in abiding by the proper operation, management, and regular maintenance for pollution prevention and control equipment and also be more responsible themselves in protecting the environment.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, February 2023
Ministry of Environment