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Sat, Jan 13, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Pinnan project nearing approval

INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX The EPA is ready to give final approval to the project's environmental impact assessment some time after Chinese New Year, despite reservations by local residents

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yesterday at the Environmental Protection Administration, where officials met with business representatives before finalizing the decision on whether to proceed with the Pinnan industrial complex in southern Taiwan, oyster farmers demonstrated to show the safety of locally harvested oysters. Recent reports have alleged that oysters and other aquatic products in Taiwan are contaminated by industrial pollutants.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) announced yesterday that the controversial environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Pinnan Industrial Complex (濱南工業區) project in Tainan County will be finalized some time after Chinese New Year.

The last meeting for finalizing the EIA was held at the EPA yesterday morning. EPA officials said that EIA committee members would finalize the assessment after receiving information they requested yesterday from the developers, the Tuntex Group (東帝士集團) and Yieh-loong Co (燁隆).

By the end of last year, the EPA's EIA committee had convened a total of 66 meetings since the developers proposed the project in 1993.

During that time, the two companies have revised the details of their controversial proposal several times in an effort to appease environmentalists and speed passage of the EIA.

Last December, the EIA review committee conditionally passed the EIA by excluding one of the most controversial components of the project -- the industrial harbor -- and specified that this particular aspect of the plan would be the subject of a separate EIA.

"As long as EIA committee members are satisfied with the information the developers present, the EIA will be finalized," EPA Deputy Administrator James Lee (李界木) said.

Yesterday's meeting constituted the second time the EPA had attempted to finalize the EIA. On Nov. 29 last year, due to protests from environmentalists and fishermen, the EPA ordered the developers to address the concerns of protesters by presenting more comprehensive research information about the potential ecological impact on the proposed site, which is near the estuary of the Tsengwen River (曾文溪).

Conservationists argued that the development project would have a negative impact on coastal areas, including Chiku Lagoon (七股溼地), where endangered black-faced spoonbills spend the winter.

Yesterday, conservationists from various environmental groups protested in front of the EPA building again to show their anger.

Oyster farmers and fishermen from villages in Tainan County brought with them raw oysters caught at Chiku Lagoon to petition EPA officials to preserve a site for them to continue to ply their trade.

Although protesters were eventually invited into the conference room to audit the meeting, their gloomy faces reflected their despair.

Due to disagreement between protesters and supporters of the project, among them Tainan County Commissioner Mark Chen (陳唐山), it took five hours for the sides to reach an agreement. EPA officials will conduct a field investigation at the proposed site after the Chinese New Year holidays and developers will present more information pertaining to the potential environmental impact.

"As long as developers can satisfy EIA committee members, the case is over as far as we are concerned," said Lee, who chaired the meeting.

Lee told the Taipei Times after the meeting that the EPA would hold no further meetings concerning the Pinnan project.

"The EIA was passed conditionally last year. We really don't have to waste our time like this," Lee said.

Environmentalists told the Taipei Times that they were very disappointed with the new government because they say it was unwise to develop the industrial complex where so-called sunset industries, such as steel making, would be located.

"We can't accept the project's using part of Chiku Lagoon," said Pan Han-chiang (潘翰疆), a demonstrator from the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union.

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