Fri, Oct 17, 2003 - Page 2 News List

EPA head pledges reviews


The environmental impact assessment (EIA) system would be comprehensively reviewed in order to have public opinion included through newly-designed effective participation, acting Environmental Protection Administrator Chang Juu-en (張祖恩) said yesterday.

Chang yesterday reported to the Legislative Yuan for the first time since taking over the reins from former Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) head Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) earlier this month. Hau's legacy, which included unsettled controversies surrounding the collision of public opinion and professionalism on EIAs, was brought up by legislators.

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) said a medical-waste incinerator undergoing a trial run in Kaohsiung sparked strong local opposition last month. Residents of the city's Hsiaokang District demanded a referendum to decide the future of the facility built by a company under contract with the city government.

"I absolutely support the referendum because the EIA Act (環境影響評估法) fails to regulate the establishment of small-sized incinerators," Lo said.

The act designates that it is not necessary for a project constructing a medical-waste incinerator with a daily capacity of less than 20 tonnes to have an assessment completed.

Lo said the health of residents from 43 wardens in the district would be affected by the incinerator's operation, since it is less than 200m from the nearest community.

"If the EIA system was designed to benefit developers only, why can't we have the referendum to override so-called environmental professionalism?" Lo asked.

In addition, People First Party Legislator Cheng Mei-lan (鄭美蘭) said the impact assessment for a thermal-power plant in Linko, Taipei County, was lax.

Cheng said that "Inappropriate management of coal ash pollute the coastal environment, leaving fishermen with a more challenging workplace."

Chang said that his administration had experts who reviewed the Act at the beginning of the year and a primary result would be available by the end of this year.

"I believe that we will have a revised law, which would balance public opinion and environmental professionalism," Chang said.

Taking the result of a recent referendum held by residents in Chichi township, Nantou County, as an example, Chang said that the local authority should re-designate a proposed site for the incinerator project in order to show its respect for Chichi people.

In addition to the act, Chang said, many other policies would be comprehensively reviewed in order to keep abreast of the times. For example, he said, waste-management policies would be reviewed in order to create a recycling-oriented society.

Chang said, however, that some existing environmental policies would still be processed.

In response to legislators who doubted the feasibility of limiting the use of disposable tableware and plastic shopping bags, Chang said the policy would not be changed while strategies to promote it might be only slightly adjusted.

Meanwhile, Chang said, the administration will continue making a claim for compensation pertaining to an oil spill caused by the Greek-registered M/V Amorgos in 2001 through Lee and Li Attorneys-at-Law, despite a recent embezzlement scandal around the firm.

According to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Wan-ju (廖婉汝), confidential documents show that the law firm only intended to seek NT$350 million compensation from the ship's owner. Last year, on the first anniversary of the accident, Hau vowed to seek NT$1 billion compensation.

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