Thu, Mar 16, 2006 - Page 4 News List

EPA's head stands up for Taiwan's environment

NOT SO BAD After an elderly Japanese couple quit Puli complaining of noise, motorbikes and dog waste, Chang Kuo-lung felt moved to action

CNA , TAIPEI

The head of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) defended the nation's environment yesterday, saying that it is not as bad as has been reported.

EPA Minister Chang Kuo-lung (張國龍) was responding to questions about a failed program to attract foreigners to choose a community for long-term stays when he reported on the implementation of a waste recycling and cross-region handling policy to the Health, Environment and Social Welfare Committee at the Legislative Yuan.

At issue was a pilot "long-stay" program actively promoted by the Tourism Bureau.

An elderly Japanese couple was interested in the program and moved into scenic Puli (埔里), Nantou County, recently.

The couple planned to stay for three months on a trial basis and then to introduce their friends in Japan to the scenic area if they found it satisfactory.

However, the couple called it quits after only two weeks, complaining about the lack of facilities such as dehumidifiers and a clothes dryer at their rented house.

They were also unhappy about the noise, numerous motorcycles and dog waste on the streets.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) said that the program had been derailed because of the large amount of litter and dog waste on the streets, which he said has turned the "long-stay" program into a "no-stay" one.

Yang took the EPA to task over the failed program, saying that it was the "unshirkable" responsibility of the administration.

Chang said that the complaints of the Japanese couple stemmed mainly from their comparison of one country to another, noting that even in Japan, only rural areas have done a good job in environmental maintenance and waste categorization and that urban areas are more chaotic.

The dog waste problem in Taiwan is also not as serious as that in France, Chang said, although the EPA would continue to work toward improving the environment.

He also noted that many people still have not got into the habit of retrieving their dog's waste when taking their pet for a walk, adding that the administration would work with police to step up enforcement of the law in this respect.

He also said that Taiwan's tap water is drinkable. He noted that as some household's water tanks may not be entirely clean, tap water may get polluted if stored for too long.

However, he added, if the water is taken straight from the tap, it is safe to drink.

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