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Tue, Mar 28, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Industrial projects face the ax

ENVIRONMENT DPP lawmakers were joined by some of their KMT counterparts in calling on the EPA to halt several KMT-initiated industrial development projects


As Taiwan begins its post-election transition of power, DPP legislators have demanded that the Environmental Protection Administration (環境保護署, EPA) review several of Taiwan's more controversial industrial development projects.

The fourth nuclear power plant, along with the Pinnan Industrial Complex (濱南工業區) project, the Meinung Dam (美濃水庫) project, and the issue of Formosa Plastics Group's (台塑集團) mercury-tainted waste were all on the list of the DPP lawmakers' environmental concerns.

The demands are evidence of the KMT's and DPP's remarkably differing stances on environmental issues.

While delivering a report to the legislature yesterday on plans to manage industrial waste, EPA Administrator Tsai Hsung-hsiung (蔡勳雄) was questioned by DPP legislators on the feasibility of these projects.

DPP legislators Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟) asked Tsai if he would order a halt to several major projects.

"We suggest that the continuing environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Pinnan project should be halted due to its controversial status" Lai said, suggesting the EPA's passage of the first stage of the EIA was questionable.

The controversy over the Pinnan project, which will include a petrochemical and steel-making project, including the Seventh Naphtha Cracker (七輕), has exposed what environmentalists are calling a large gap between Taiwan's economic development policies and global environmental protection trends.

Most notable among these are the reduction of total carbon dioxide emission, preservation of biodiversity in Taiwan's wetlands and protecting water resources, according to environmental groups.

"The DPP had expressed strong opposition to the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant, as well as the Meinung Dam project," said DPP legislator Chang Ching-fang (張清芳), adding that the EPA should do something to have them halted.

Controversial projects on the DPP's agenda

* The fourth nuclear power plant, Kungliao Township, Taipei County

* The Pinnan Industrial Complex, Chiku Township, Tainan County

* The Meinung Dam project, Kaohsiung County.

* Formosa Plastics Group's mercury-tainted waste

The legislators said they were targeting the two projects in particular, because they were approved before 1994, when the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法) was implemented, adding that the projects should follow the new, tougher regulations, which would make it more difficult for the projects to be approved.

Several KMT legislators agreed with their DPP colleagues.

"I suggest that the fate of the controversial projects we discuss here should be decided by referendum," said Jao Yung-ching (趙永清), a KMT legislator.

However, Tsai stressed that the passage of the EIA for the Pinnan project was absolutely legal, public and fair.

"As for the second stage of the EIA, developers are preparing the required information to get approval," Tsai said.

"The ongoing construction of the forth nuclear power plant and the Meinung Dam project could be stopped if budgets for related subsidiary plans are cut," Tsai said.

Jao also said the EPA had taken sides in favor of Taiwan's petrochemical giant, Formosa Plastics, when dealing with the issue of the company's mercury-tainted waste. A contracted waste handler for FPG dumped the waste secretly in Cambodia in 1998. The event drew widespread condemnation among the international community.

"I would like to see legal documents for the recent shipment of 32 cargo containers of the waste," Jao said, referring to reports that some of the material had been illegally exported late last year.

Tsai said that no mercury-tainted waste had been exported to the Netherlands, as has been reported, adding that the only material exported had been plastic bags and clothes used in Cambodia when cleaning up the waste in 1998.

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