Sat, Jul 05, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Taipei City votes in favor of garbage deal with Keelung


Taipei City Council yesterday voted 26 to 24 in favor of a controversial proposal to cooperate with Keelung on waste disposal.

All KMT city councilors voted in favor of the plan, under pressure from Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is also the KMT vice chairman.

Under the proposal, Taipei will incinerate Keelung City's garbage. In exchange, for every tonne of Keelung's garbage incinerated in Taipei, Keelung will bury a tonne of Taipei's incinerator ash in addition to its own ash.

Keelung produces about 300 tonnes of garbage a day.

The arrangement will last until sometime next year when Keelung is set to complete a second landfill and incinerator.

The proposal was first raised in 2001 with a memo signed by both Ma and Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利).

Taipei lacks space to dump incinerator ash, while Keelung was looking for a place to incinerate its garbage.

With Taipei's Shanchuku landfill in Nankang filling up, the city needed to either build another landfill or extend the life of the Shanchuku site.

But the proposal could not proceed unless both Taipei and Keelung city councils gave it a green light and it has been met with resistance from the Taipei City Council and Taipei citizens.

They said recycling in Taipei was not done properly and that incineration of unrecycled waste would produce dioxin, poisoning residents around the incinerator.

"If the council approves the proposal, the biggest loser will be both Taipei and Keelung citizens. Now dioxin will not only be spreading in Taipei, but the ashes will bring dioxin back to Keelung," said Liu Huei-min (劉惠敏), spokeswoman for the Green Citizen Action Union (綠色公民行動聯盟), one of the social groups initiating the protest.

The social groups said the Taipei City Government should carry out recycling properly and prohibit the incineration of toxic waste before agreeing to such an arrangement.

After two years of struggling and the resignation of Taipei City Bureau of Environmental Protection Director Shen Shih-hung (沈世宏) this Tuesday, Ma delivered an ultimatum to KMT councilors demanding they push the proposal through.

"As a KMT vice chairman, I'll consider disciplining those who vote against the proposal," Ma said.

Ma promised that if the city council consented to the plan, he would not start to build the third landfill in Neihu during his term because the city would not face the problem of ash dumping. The gesture was an attempt to gain the support of councilors from the Neihu and Nankang areas.

With support from the New Party caucus and councilor Ou Yang-lung (歐陽龍), who has New Party leanings, the proposal was passed.

Several KMT and New Party councilors, however, expressed regret over having to support the plan under pressure from their parties.

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