Thu, May 12, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Environmental ministry outline faces challenge

RETHINK NEEDED:Japan’s March 11 disaster and nuclear power plant woes have shown the need to reformulate the proposed ministry, activists say

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

The draft organization act for a ministry of environmental resources was yesterday challenged by a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator and environmental protection groups who questioned its ability to deal with compound disasters.

The proposed ministry is set to be established next year as part of a reform effort to cut the number of ministries and councils in the Executive Yuan from 37 to 29.

In light of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) and environmental groups urged the government to re-evaluate Taiwan’s nuclear power plants.

They also said the draft organization act for the new ministry would not give it the authority to handle nuclear disaster prevention or deal with nuclear problems.

The Japanese government has learned from the Fukushima disaster because it has decided to re-evaluate its nuclear power policy, which led to the closure of the Hamaoka nuclear plant last week, Tien said.

“Geologically speaking, the island of Taiwan is younger than Japan, which means it is more unstable than Japan,” said Lee Chao-shing (李昭興), a professor of applied geosciences at National Taiwan Ocean University.

The Central Weather Bureau, the Water Resources Agency, the Forestry and Conservation Agency, the Water Conservation and Mining Agency, the Bureau of Pollution Control and the National Park Agency would be placed under the aegis of the new ministry.

“The new ministry is like a patchwork, like Frankenstein,” said Jay Fang (方儉) of the Green Consumer’s Foundation, adding that the agencies would still be responsible for the same tasks they are currently performing.

It lacks integration based on the core value of national sustainability, he said.

The environmental groups offered a revised version of the draft act, which suggests that the new ministry should focus on enforcing the Basic Environment Act (環境基本法) and refer to Article 1 “to raise the quality of the environment, advance the health and well being of the public, preserve environmental resources and pursue sustainable development by promoting environmental protection” as the ministry’s core value.

They also said the new ministry should have authority to monitor and deal with harm — to the public and the environment — caused by exposure to nuclear radiation, not the proposed ministry of technology, which the government wants to put in complete charge of nuclear power management.

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