Thu, Oct 30, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Anti-incinerator protests across Taiwan

BURNING ISSUE The protests in Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung indicated that the incinerator issue will not go away, while Miaoli protesters looked to a referendum


Protesters clash with police yesterday in a protest against waste incinerators in Wujih Township.


A series of protests against waste incinerators across Taiwan yesterday highlights the contentiousness of the Environmental Protection Administration's (EPA) policy review relating to waste management .

In the south of Kaohsiung County, more than 200 residents of Taliao Township protested yesterday morning against a medical waste incinerator in the Tafa industrial complex, where an average of 90 tonnes of medical waste, collected from 82 hospitals and 2,182 clinics, is burnt every month.

The egg-throwing demonstrators said they often smelt a foul odor because the incinerator spewed out excessive pollutants.

They said the dioxin concentration tested earlier this month was much higher than the limit stipulated in new regulations to apply from next year.

"The concentration of dioxin is 203 times the acceptable level. So does the government think our lives are worthless?" Taliao township chief Huang Tien-huang (黃天煌) asked.

The protesters later appealed to Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) to shut down the incinerator permanently.

Yang said however that the operators of the incinerator would be punished if they failed to meet the standards by next year.

According to the incinerator's operators, the plant has been closed since Tuesday for renovations.

Meanwhile, in Taichung County, more than 300 residents of Wujih Township protested against a newly-completed NT$4.5 billion incinerator.

Carrying a deity, demonstrators tried to forcibly enter the plant but were stopped by police.

Unlike Kaohsiung, the Wujih protesters said they would accept the incinerator as long as they were suitably compensated.

Environmental officials from the Taichung County government said NT$19 million would be allocated to local construction projects.

They said the incinerator was being tested and would not be officially launched until early next year.

The demonstrations were augmented by protests in front of the EPA in Taipei yesterday afternoon. Dozens of activists from environmental groups took part, saying that unsettled disputes over incinerators required an immediate change of policy.

Citing the example of an incinerator under construction in Miaoli County's Chunan Township, activists said the government should first improve the current recycling rate of 3 percent rather than rely on incineration.

"We don't want a cent from the government and we will hold a referendum next month to express our strong opposition," said Hsu Ming-sung (許明松), an anti-incinerator activist from Miaoli.

Representatives of Chichi Township in Nantou County said that the result of their referendum clearly expressed their opposition against the incinerator project.

The result was sent to related agencies, including the Cabinet, the EPA, the Nantou County Government and the township office.

"If our opinions can't be taken seriously even now, then we might file a lawsuit against the government based on environmental laws," said Tsai Yuan-chou (蔡元周), a representative of the Chichi group.

Demonstrators had presented a petition asking new EPA chief Chang Juu-en (張祖恩) to revoke a recently-released Cabinet analysis on waste management policy.

"In this report, the EPA is still sticking with using incinerators. So what else is new?" said Hsieh Herlin (謝和霖), a researcher at the Taiwan Watch Institute.

EPA officials said the analysis recommended several policy adjustments, after taking into account earlier criticism from several sources, including residents, legislators and environmentalists.

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