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Fri, Apr 28, 2000 - Page 2 News List

NSC chief promises heads will roll over UMC plant

ENVIRONMENT National Science Council officials have stepped into the Hsinchu science park fray, vowing to end a controversy surrounding a UMC chip foundry

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Officials from the National Science Council (NSC) said yesterday that they would find out who was responsible for the failure of a local manufacturer to proceed with an environmental impact assessment (EIA) before building a new plant two years ago, adding that the controversial case would not be left for the new government to handle.

The case involves the failure of United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) to provide an EIA for review in 1998, when applying for a development permit for a new chip fabrication plant at the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (新竹科學園區).

The NSC, which oversees the Science-based Industrial Park Administration (SIPA), has now come under pressure to deal with the issue -- prompting a visit by officials to Hsinchu yesterday.

The visit was also aimed at easing tensions between the Hsinchu municipal and county governments and the park over urban planning problems.

"I will complete the ongoing investigation over the UMC case, and punish officials who neglected their duties by May 18 -- when all members of the Cabinet will resign," NSC chairman Hwang Jenn-tai (黃鎮台) said yesterday.

At a mediation lunch with Hsinchu mayor Tsai Jen-chien (蔡仁堅), SIPA director Huang Wen-hsiung (黃文雄) and Tseng Fan-cheng (曾繁城), the representative for firms at the park, Hwang asked park administration officials to enhance communication between the administration, firms in the park and the local government.

Tsai complained on Wednesday about contradictory regulations and laws pertaining to local governments and the park.

Hwang, however, said yesterday that local urban development plans could be carried out with cooperation and existing conflicts on environmental and urban planning issues would be eventually solved.

The NSC said it would budget NT$200 million for SIPA to contribute to public construction projects planned by various local governments next year.

Hwang said that UMC was innocent, because it had followed SIPA's instructions when applying for the project.

"We will do our best to communicate with the EPA in a bid to limit UMC's losses caused by the forced shutdown of its plant," said Hwang.

The EPA is to review UMC's EIA report today, and it is believed the review, now two years overdue, will be approved. UMC officials voiced their concern yesterday over possible huge financial losses the plant closure could cause.

"We hope to pass the EIA review tomorrow and resume operations on April 29," said UMC's board vice chairman, Hsueh Ming-chih (宣明智).

At a public hearing held by legislators in Taipei yesterday, SIPA officials were not so confident that the EIA would be quickly passed.

"Although our staff did not question the scientific data provided by UMC, we still need to wait and see the EPA's final decision," said Chou San-yi (周山一), deputy director of the science park's administration.

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