Fri, Dec 12, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Community protests incinerators

LARGEST EVER The huge demonstration by residents of six counties against the burning of rubbish was the most massive ever against waste management policies

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

More than 2,000 residents of various counties yesterday protest waste management policies that emphasize the use of burning trash in front of the Legislative Yuan. The sign in front reads ``self-burning,'' warning the ruling Democratic Progressive Party not to burn down its political future.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Waving banners that said "self-burning" and "protest," residents of Hsinchu, Miaoli, Yunlin, Hualien, Tautung and Taipei yesterday protested in front of the Legislative Yuan, urging legislators to cut budget funds allocated for incinerators.

More than 2,000 residents from various counties gathered in Taipei to protest waste management policies that emphasize the use of burning, asking the central government to terminate not only projects for building seven new facilities, but also to shut down facilities already operating.

The protest, the largest-ever demonstration against incineration, came on the eve of a vote by legislators on the 2004 budget for the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

Some legislators serving on the Sustainable Development Committee, including the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Eugene Jao (趙永清) and Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬), led representatives of the protesters to communicate with both the Executive Yuan and the EPA.

Some legislators said that the seven waste incinerators under construction were unnecessary, and urged the EPA to review those projects within three months.

The agency has proposed spending NT$450 million to continue the seven incinerator projects next year.

The seven incinerators are located in Hsinchu, Miaoli, Nantou, Yunlin, Taitung and Hualien counties.

Anti-incinerators activists and legislators urged EPA Administrator Chang Juu-en (張祖恩) to bring a temporary halt to the seven projects for a three-month evaluation.

"If some or all of the seven facilities will be cancelled eventually, why are we now wasting money and time constructing them?" said Hsinchu County Councilor Lin Wei-chou (林為洲), who led Hsinchu residents to Taipei to protest the policy.

According to various legislators' evaluations, the total cost of the seven planned incinerators is about NT$27 billion, including construction costs and operational expenses for 20 years. If the projects were cancelled, the financial losses would be about NT$10.8 billion, including NT$3.8 billion in compensation to contractors and NT$7 billion in operating fees for handling the waste for 20 years.

Lin, who is also the DPP's Hsinchu chapter director, said he was not protesting against the party, but instead the burning-oriented waste management policy put in place by the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

"Now it's time to show the ruling party's resolve in scrapping out-of-date policies," Lin said.

Lin said the EPA's reluctance to suspend the seven contracts would, for contractual reasons, cause further financial loss.

Chang said that continuing the contracts was the business of local governments, and the EPA had no right to intervene.

"If any local authority decides to cancel an incinerator project, the EPA will give all its effort to help come up with new solutions to problems pertaining to waste management," Chang said.

Demonstrators yesterday also submitted a petition to the Office of the President, urging President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to face up to the situation and not dodge emerging environmental problems.

According to the petition, there have been many problems resulting from the incinerators under construction, such as a significant drop in groundwater levels caused by over-pumping.

The petition said that the capacity of the 19 operational waste incinerators exceeds the amount of household waste generated. Referendum results show that people prefer to recycle new waste instead of building new incinerators.

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