Sat, Aug 05, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Marshall Islands reconsidering building of dry dock


More than a year after it was rejected by environmental authorities, an US$18 million Taiwanese floating dry dock is being reconsidered by the Marshall Islands.

The Taiwanese company Ching Fu has resubmitted a proposal to locate its football-field-sized dry dock in Majuro, the Marshall Islands' capital, with a public hearing set for next Tuesday.

The plan sparked strong public outrage last year because Ching Fu, with government support, wanted to locate the dry dock in the center of the main urban area of the atoll.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials said yesterday they would not change the decision from last year that rejected the preferred location, but were considering an alternative downtown location adjacent to residential areas and less than 800m from the main hotel in the capital, the Marshall Islands Resort.

Taiwan's ambassador to the Marshall Islands Chen Lien-gene (陳連軍) said he hoped there would be "favorable consideration" of the new Ching Fu plan.

"It's too important for the Marshall Islands to ignore it," he said.

He added that the siting of a dry dock in Majuro would have multiple spin-off benefits for the local economy by attracting more fishing vessels for repairs and maintenance.

The public hearing was scheduled because the "proposed alternative site was not detailed in the originally released public environmental impact assessment document last year," the EPA said in a statement.

Ching Fu officials have asked for a prompt response, and the EPA confirmed that it aimed to make a decision within three days of the public hearing.

The Marshall Islands is one of six nations in the Pacific with diplomatic ties to Taiwan, and receives more than US$12 million annually from Taipei in funding and technical assistance.

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