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EPA, Army develop 7 decontamination cars

The China Post--The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA, 環保署) and Republic of China Army have produced a new tool to help in disaster relief: cars that clean people who are contaminated with nerve gas or other chemical agents.

Research and development for the seven-unit fleet cost NT$55.5 million over three years, according to chief Yuan Shaw-ying (袁紹英) of the EPA's Toxic Substance Management (毒管處).

The towering cars, each measuring 11.5 meters long, 2.5 m wide, and 4 m high, come equipped with 1,000-liter water tanks.

Decontamination is a three-step process. First, victims remove their contaminated garments before stepping into a second room to shower. After washing off the contaminants on their skin, they enter a third room to put on a clean gown.

One vehicle can process up to 120 persons an hour, according to the EPA.

The cars — called the “Updated Model Personnel Decontamination Vehicles” (新型人員除污車) — also have other features.

They “collect contaminants ... recycle their own wastewater ... provide on-site environmental monitoring ... are fast and convenient and mobile ... (and) require just two people to operate.”

They're an improvement over existing European and North American decontamination vehicles that are “time-consuming and laborious to operate,” Yuan said.

The project is a partnership between the EPA and the Chemical Corps School (化學兵學校) of the Republic of China Army. Its primary purpose is to strengthen relief for large-scale toxic accidents, nuclear and biological disasters, and terrorist attacks.

In upcoming weeks, the personnel decontamination vehicles will be shipped to military bases across Taiwan where they will be entered into the catalogue of national disaster relief devices.

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A Republic of China Army staffer demonstrates the chemical decontamination process in Taipei, yesterday. First, victims remove their contaminated garments before stepping into a second room to shower. After washing off the contaminants on their skin, they enter a third room to put on a clean gown.

(CNA)

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