Mon, Apr 14, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Environmentalists criticize Cabinet's stance on wharf

DAMAGE CONTROL The Cabinet has agreed that the construction of a wharf is eroding Fulung Beach but will allow the building to continue


The Cabinet's recent decision to continue the construction of a wharf being built for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Taipei County reveals its reluctance to review mistakes in an environmental impact assessment for the project, environmental groups said yesterday.

In January, Premier Yu Shyi-kun established a task force composed of experts and officials from Cabinet-level agencies to investigate whether erosion of the nearby Fulung Beach could be attributed to stresses on the environment caused by construction of the wharf, which was built to facilitate construction of the plant.

Last Friday, the Cabinet confirmed the connection between the two, saying that Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), the builder and future operator of the plant, should be responsible for the damage.

However, ministers without portfolio Lin Sheng-feng (林盛豐) and Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), who are in charge of the investigation, did not demand an immediate halt to the wharf's construction.

Instead they ordered Taipower to communicate with residents of Kungliao township, where the plant is located. They did not specify what the communications should comprise.

They also expressed concerns that the plant should be completed on schedule in July 2006, thereby avoiding the need to pay compensation to contractors.

"This is absolutely unacceptable. The government doesn't even want to mend mistakes that are the result of previous thoughtlessness," said Wu Wen-tung (吳文通), spokesman for the Kungliao-based Yenliao Anti-Nuclear Self-Help Association.

Yesterday, Kungliao residents who oppose the plant held a strategy meeting to press the Cabinet to deal with what they say are unsound environmental laws regulating environmental impact assessments.

Anti-nuclear activists said that the wharf's construction was not included in the assessment for the power-plant project, which was conditionally approved by the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) in September 1991.

"At the time, the assessment only `speculates' that there would not be significant environmental impact on the beach," said Lai Wei-chieh (賴偉傑) of the Green Citizen Action Alliance.

The assessment claimed that available scientific evaluation, including numerical analysis and hydraulic models, could not predict precisely the likely impact on the beach from the construction of the plant, Lai said.

When the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法) was enacted in 1994, environmentalists began highlighting what they said were questionable aspects of the assessment conducted by the AEC and called for a new, comprehensive evaluation to be conducted by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

In response, the EPA established a committee to monitor environmental conditions near the construction site -- but did not order a new environmental impact assessment that incorporated the wharf construction.

Conservationists said Fulung Beach demonstrated the common destiny of coastal ecology, which was being destroyed by unsound development projects lacking strategic environmental assessments.

Sam Lin (林聖崇), head of the Ecology Conservation Alliance, said other cases include the erosion to the Waishanding sandbar outside Chiayi County, which resulted from construction of the Yunlin Offshore Industrial Park (雲林離島工業區), where the Sixth Naphtha Cracker run by Formosa Plastics is located.

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