Environmental groups and residents on Thursday appealed the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) approval of the Central Taiwan Science Park’s (CTSP) latest expansion plan, while also filing lawsuits against several officials.
The expansion is planned to take place next month on the site of a former arsenal, a slope spanning 53 hectares on Dadu Mountain (大肚山) in Taichung. It passed an environmental impact assessment in February.
A number of heavy machinery and semiconductor manufacturers have expressed interest in setting up plants at the site, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, which plans to set up an 18-inch wafer foundry — a move many see as motivated by the company wanting to beat Samsung Electronics Co in carrying out advanced microchip fabrication.
Attorney Ko Shao-chen (柯邵臻), who represents environmental protection groups and 252 Taichung residents living within a 10km radius of the proposed expansion site, said the science park’s fifth phase is one of the most controversial projects in the nation’s history.
Despite strong protests from its opponents, the project was arbitrarily approved by the EPA just before the Lunar New Year holiday, she said.
Many sources of pollution are already present near the site, including incinerators built during the industrial complex’s first and second-phase expansions, as well as coal-fired power plants and crematoriums, which have caused the local environment to reach its maximum capacity, Ko said.
In addition, several carcinogens expected to be released by industrial effluents and emissions were allegedly left out of the assessment, which contravenes the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法), prompting the groups to file lawsuits against members of the assessment committee.
Environmentalists and residents accused Environmental Protection Administration Minister Wei Kuo-yen (魏國彥) and several other members of the assessment committee of publicizing what they said was “forged data” on health risk assessments, filing lawsuits against them.
In response, Department of Comprehensive Planning Director-General Chu Yu-chi (朱雨其) said all health issues were addressed during the assessment and that the Environmental Protection Administration would respect the public’s right to appeal to the Executive Yuan.
In previous lawsuits filed by residents opposing the EPA’s approval of the complex’s third and fourth-phase expansions, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, which resulted in the nullification of approval for those assessments.
Both projects are currently undergoing second-stage assessments.
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