Wed, Oct 10, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Premier defends LNG plant

SO DIFFERENT:The revised plan reduces the scope from 230 to 23 hectares and builds the harbor offshore to avoid damaging the algal reefs, Premier William Lai said

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Premier William Lai takes part in a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

The government’s plans for a third liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal are completely different from those of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) when it was in power, as the current plans are smaller in scope and incorporate measures to prevent damage to ecologically sensitive zones, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday.

Lai made the remarks during a question-and-answer session with KMT Legislator Sufin Siluko at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), after inspecting the algal reefs off the coast of Taoyuan’s Datan Borough (大潭) in 2013, vowed to make the area an environmental reserve to ensure that the reefs would be preserved, Sufin said.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) owes the public an apology for making a U-turn on the issue after so fiercely criticizing the KMT’s plans less than three years ago, he said.

On Monday, plans to build the LNG terminal in Taoyuan’s Guantang Industrial Park (觀塘工業區) to power the Datan Power Plant (大潭電廠) passed an environmental impact assessment amid protests from environmental groups.

Sufin Siluko had misunderstood the DPP’s plan for the LNG terminal, which, under the supervision of Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森), has undergone extensive changes since the KMT was the ruling party, Lai said.

Those include a reduction in the scope of development from 230 hectares to 23 hectares, as well as measures to avoid damaging the algal reefs, Lai said.

The original plan involved building a harbor on the algal reefs, but now the proposed harbor is to be moved offshore, he said, adding that the positioning of storage tanks and piles was changed to avoid damaging the reefs.

The current plan takes into account both economic development and environmental protection, and does not contradict the president’s instructions, he said.

Environmental Protection Administration Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the plan had been moved 20m offshore, circumventing algal reefs that grow 20m below sea level.

“It is an entirely different plan from the KMT’s,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, the premier rejected an accusation by KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) that he was attempting to swindle votes by announcing that the plan for constructing the Shenao thermal power plant could be halted if plans to build a third LNG terminal were approved.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦), who is seeking re-election in the Nov. 24 election, is holding a firm lead in the polls, whereas DPP New Taipei City mayoral candidate Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) campaign is suffering, Lai Shyh-bao had said.

The DPP approved the LNG terminal construction project in exchange for the proposed Shenao (深澳) thermal power plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳) — which is a source of public criticism — to salvage Su’s election campaign, Lai Shyh-bao said.

“I did not try to swindle votes,” the premier said.

Aside from powering the Datan plant’s No. 8 and No. 9 gas-fired units, the proposed LNG terminal would still generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity, which leads to the possibility of dropping the Shenao plan, he said.

“Are you going to admit that I was telling the truth if the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ evaluation deems it no longer necessary to build the Shenao plant?” the premier said.

Lai Shyh-bao said that after the Nov. 24 elections, the premier would resume the plan to build the Shenao plant, telling people to “just wait and see.”

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