Marchers call for clean air in Taiwan

Protesters demand closure of obsolete coal power plant that pollutes southern counties

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Yunlin residents decry air pollution.

Yunlin residents decry air pollution. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Environmental groups gathered in Taipei on Sunday (Dec. 29) for the annual anti-air pollution parade, which this year focused on clean air problems in the south.

The protestors marched from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), passed the Legislative Yuan and Administrative Yuan, before arriving at Liberty Square. According to Lee Jian-chen (李建誠), spokesperson of the southern anti-air pollution rally, half of the air pollution in Kaoshiung comes from state-owned enterprises.

According to a study, the incidence of lung cancer in southern Taiwan is 15 times higher than the north. The study pointed out 53 percent of lung cancer patients never smoked, indicating that air pollution might be the leading cause.

The demonstrators demanded the government take action, including shutting down Hsinta power plant, the oldest coal power plant in Taiwan. They also called for regular health checks for residents and laborers in industrial areas.

Taiwan Power responded by saying that electricity generation is not the primary source of air pollution in Taiwan, accounting for only 5.4%, according to one study. Nevertheless, it will strive to eliminate emissions and rely more on gas-fired power plants to generate power in the future and improve air quality.