Anti-pollution protesters take to the streets in Taiwan's Yunlin County

Marchers called for a halt to pollution-creating energy production

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Protesters at an anti-pollution march earlier this year

Protesters at an anti-pollution march earlier this year (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Citizens took to the streets today (Nov. 11) in Taiwan’s Yunlin County (雲林) as part of a non-partisan “Third Force” anti-pollution protest march.

Over the past few days, parts of Taiwan have been swept by waves of smoggy air, lingering over urban areas due to low wind speeds. Taiwan’s air quality index report continues to flash a “red warning” for many areas, indicating unhealthy air likely to negatively impact the vulnerable and those engaging in prolonged outdoor activity.

The urban corridor lining the west coast of Southern and Central Taiwan has been most drastically hit, and the city of Douliu (斗六) in Yunlin County, where today’s protest took place, has shown some of the worst air quality readings.

Citizens gathered and marched a circular route through the city, shouting “Coal to gas!” among other slogans, pleading for authorities to allow children to grow up in a pollution-free environment. They appealed to the public to support the non-partisan “Third Force”—a collective of new party representatives focusing on many “non-traditional” sociopolitical issues.

Yunlin’s independent mayoral candidate Chen Ming-chang (陳明章), as well as independent county magistrate candidate Wang Liping (王麗萍) joined to support the cause.

Chen said air pollution is extremely harmful to residents of Douliu, and much of the pollution in the area comes from Taiwan’s Sixth Naptha cracking plant which is located on the nearby coast in Yunlin County. He pledged that if elected, he will make Formosa Plastics (responsible for the plant) pay for twice-yearly health checks for all Douliu residents. If any resulting health impairments are discovered, he will also make the company pay for necessary treatment in full.

In addition, Chen said he would help establish a special unit for treatment and research related to air pollution at National Taiwan University Hospital Yunlin Branch. He added that Formosa Plastics would become responsible for the costs of air pollution education at schools within the 31 km “pollution zone” of the region.

Wang added that he has made demands for the issue to be openly debated among county magistrate candidates, including those representing the two major parties.