Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Air quality worsens from Typhoon Morakot's dust

Wuchi Power Plant through the haze. Wuchi Power Plant at Taichung Harbour named the world's dirtiest coal-fired power plant by the prestigious science journal, Nature.

Dried sediment like this on the Jhoushuei River results in large quantities of fine dust.

The dusty floodplain at the confluence of the Jhoushuei and Chingshuei Rivers on the border of Nantou, Changhua and Yunlin Counties. The hills of Huben are clearly visible in the background.

The air quality in central Taiwan has always been a problem. The world's dirtiest coal-fired power plant in Wuchi, Taichung does its bit in greying central skies. Then, the Formosa Plastics plant at Mailiao and various other industrial parks all add to the toxic clouds. Add to that the burning of rice fields, garbage, ghost money and the exhausts of millions of scooters, cars and trucks and you have really scary air. But it doesn't stop there. You need to add dust, too. The lower courses of Taiwan's rivers tend to have very wide floodplains. This is due to the volume of water within rivers increasing dramatically during typhoons. With the building of dams and weirs on large rivers like the Jhoushuei and Chingshuei the greatly reduced flow of water results in the degradation of coastal wetlands and estuaries which are critical habitat for the endangered pink dolphins and causes the wide river floodplains to really dry out and dust becomes a major problem as a result...and when the Hushan Dam is completed it will only add to the problem. And this dust really helps push down the air quality index when in gets in the mix with all the other pollutants blowing around. Understandably its just got worse in the wake of Typhoon Morakot...much of the destruction and mud resulting from decades of poor land and water management.

Air quality worsens from Typhoon Morakot's dust in the Taipei Times.

Typhoon Morakot: The Writing's on the Wall

River Dust

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