Taiwan used to aggressively seek for economic development, but in the meantime ignoring environmental protection. It resulted in ubiquitous incidents of contaminated soil and groundwater. Social and environmental costs were sacrificed for partial economic development, and the government strived to solve the problems of remediation with public funds. General citizens also had to suffer from natural disasters. To deal with this severe condition and to also react to a growing environmental awareness of the public, new initiatives had to be taken. This is the reason why Taiwan set up this Remediation Fund
The nature of the Fund was to raise public grant funding, which is dedicated to be utilised for soil and groundwater pollution investigation, verification, necessary countermeasures, designing indicators for evaluation, soil recovery etc. Its Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Fund Management Board is in charge of the management.
Influx for the Fund is generated in various ways, such as revenue from remediation fees, the amounts paid by (potential) polluters, payments from land developers, interest income generated by the fund, etc. Based on Article 4 of the special regulation Governing Collection of Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Fees, "fee payers shall, on their own initiative, pay remediation fees for the previous quarter [...] into a collections account at a financial institution designated by the central competent authority, and shall fill out and submit a report to the central competent authority.” Presently, the Fund derives mostly from remediation fees.
There are two categories of soil and groundwater pollution sites: In case the level of pollution exceeds control standards, the site’s labelling will change to "controlled site", and the competent authority will take steps to prevent further spread of pollution. Selling contaminated land will also be prohibited. Controlled sites assessed to be high risk sites will be listed as "remedial sites", and the polluter must immediately start cleaning and remediating the site in accordance with the regulations.
Until late 2013, the collected fees were NTD 8,63 billion (ca.€245Mio). Regarding the proportion of substances being subject to the fee, organic petroleum derivatives accounted for the highest percentage of 83%. Among the top 10 substances leading to remediation fees, gasoline, diesel oil and fuel oil accounted for 27% of the total fees. The Fund’s achievement is distinguished and many countries including Japan, South Korea, and China made similar policies, like the SOIL ENVIRONMENT CONSERVATION ACT from South Korea (http://www.moleg.go.kr/english/korLawEng?pstSeq=47550). On the other side, a technical working group on Remediation for Soil and Groundwater Pollution of Asian Countries (ReSAGPAC WG ) was established in 2011 in Taipei. The primary objective is to provide a technical-based network for Asian countries that is capable of exchange and cooperate of remediation techniques in Asia.
The future objectives and tasks of the Fund are listed as follows:
- Improve regulations and standards as well as schemes to strengthen the administrative management system.
- Review the income and expenditure of the Fund to improve the execution of funds.
- Expand the scale of investigation in order to discover cases of potential pollution in time.
- Integrate administrative teams of all levels to promote remediation and preservation.
- Increase domestic experts' expertise and encourage the private sector to get involved.
The Fund is estimated to be 9 on the GML scale, as the concept is ready for deployment.