The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday, and received a "tumor cake" as a gift from environmental protection groups keen to highlight what they see as the deterioration of the nation's environment.
The cake was made using polluted duck eggs, rice and oysters, which were then mixed with mud from the Central Cross-Island Highway (中橫公路). The oil used to blend the ingredients contained polychlorinated biphenyls.
Meanwhile, 20 candles were placed on top of the "cake." Each representing a controversial development, such as the Formosa Plastics Corp steel plant, the CPC Corp, Taiwan petrochemical plant and the planned Suhua Freeway (蘇花高速公路).
Environmentalists said that like the candles, the pollution these projects would generate would spread like a tumor does in the body.
About 20 activists gathered in front of the EPA building yesterday morning to present the cake to administration officials, but no official came out to accept it.
Green Party Taiwan Secretary-General Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said the EPA has degenerated from a guardian of the environment into an endorser of all development projects.
"The Suhua Freeway project may soon be launched because the premier has said it will, [while] the Formosa petrochemical plant will not be penalized for overuse of water on President Chen's [Shui-bian (陳水扁)] instructions," he said.
Pan said if the environmental impact review committee granted approval to all these projects, the nation's carbon dioxide emissions would increase by 40 percent.
Secretary-General of the Green Consumers' Foundation Jay Fang (方儉) said that late premier Yu Kuo-hua (俞國華) had once said "protecting the environment is superior to developing the economy."
Fang also said 20 years ago the press was allowed to attend all EPA events, except for major bid cases, but now the press has only restricted access to information from the agency.
"This shows that the administration is trying to control what information is disseminated and likes to work things out behind closed doors," he said.
Chairman of the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation Liou Ming-long (劉銘龍) said the foundation had applied to stage a "memorial service" on Chunghwa Rd, Taipei City, for all those who have died because of pollution.
"The EPA, like a reversing high speed train, is moving backwards," he said.
In response, EPA Deputy Director Chang Tzi-chin (張子敬) said the accusations regarding the projects being railroaded through were pure speculation. He said the environmental review impact committee had not yet reviewed any of the cases mentioned and that press participation at the meetings was the same as last year.
Chang said the administration would continue to communicate with environmentalists about their concerns.