Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) Dalin Plant in Kaohsiung City received the go-ahead yesterday to replace its five generators with two 800,000 megawatt ones, ending a two-year standoff between the company and the Kaohsiung City Government, environmentalists and local residents opposed to the project.
The company originally proposed replacing the 40-year-old generators with four new ones. Taipower spokeswoman and lead engineer Tu Yueh-yuan (杜悅元) said the new ones would be cleaner because they would be fitted with high-efficiency pollution prevention equipment.
The four new generators were essential for providing electricity to southern Taiwan, Tu said.
To make up for the additional 11 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year and 341 tonnes of particulates the generators would produce — 1.5 times the current amount — Tu said Taipower was prepared to trade carbon credits or plant trees overseas so that its carbon emission levels would remain the same, while the particulates would be cut in half.
Because the Environmental Protection Administration’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) panel’s case committee had previously proposed Taipower cut the number of replacements to two, the focus of debate at yesterday’s EIA meeting was whether two or four generators would be installed.
Opponents said that with the additional carbon and emissions, “The lungs of Kaohsiung citizens would be Taiwan’s air purifier.”
“Our position is that the pollutants must be cut in half and our carbon emissions must be reduced,” Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Li Yung-de (李永德) said. “With the increased generators, it is as if we are choosing between being raped two times or four.”
“Can Taiwanese accept suffering from the extra carbon emissions while we trade carbon with foreign countries and plant trees in China or Brazil?” he said.
Resident association representative Wang Min-ling (王敏玲) said environmental pollutants lead to heart and lung diseases and the life expectancy of Kaohsiung residents was four years less than Taipei residents.
“Everyone knows Kaohsiung’s particulate concentration is much higher than the north … I have waited four hours outside this meeting room just so I can come in and tell you this: You are bullying us, and by planning to expand the Dalin Power Plant you are increasing the north-south imbalance,” Wang said.
Taiwan needs sustainable industries, not more coal-burning power plants, Wang said.
After four hours of heated delbate, Li told the meeting: “I don’t want to tell you what Kaohsiung is prepared to do if the four-generator proposal is passed. If that were to happen, I am prepared to sacrifice my personal and political life to make sure that not a single generator is built.”
The EIA panelists voted to conditionally pass the two-generator proposal and Tu said Taipower would not appeal.
“This meeting was our appeal and it failed,” she said, adding later: “We will go back to the office and discuss if we will accept the decision.”