The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday it was wrong not to have subjected the Maokong Gondola to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study, but defended the government's decision as legally sound.
EPA Minister Steven Shen (沈世宏) said that as Taiwan had never built a gondola before, the government did not think of having the Maokong Gondola undergo an EIA.
Shen made the comments yesterday in response to a question from Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) on why the gondola, currently out of service because of a damaged pillar, had not undergone such a review.
Operation of the gondola was suspended indefinitely on Oct. 1 by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) after city councilors raised safety concerns because of erosion around the system's Tower No. 16.
The foundation of the tower was damaged by flooding and mudslides induced by typhoons in September.
“We didn't have similar constructions in the past, that was the first case ... so we did not put it through an EIA,” Shen said.
“Now we are listing gondola constructions [in the list] that have to go through an EIA,” Shen said.
Asked if it was wrong that the Maokong Gondola did not go through an EIA, Shen said: “Looking back, yes, but based on the law, the decision at the time was legally sound.”
Shen also said the reason why the gondola didn't go through an EIA was because its construction area — including the station and the pillars — did not exceed the size that would require an EIA.
He said the EPA was in talks with the Taipei City Government to discuss ways to deal with the aftermath of the gondola problem.