In a rare ruling on Wednesday, a multibillion-dollar geothermal project that proposes drilling geothermal wells thousands of meters deep in Yilan County was referred to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) grand assembly to decide whether a fourth meeting or a second-phase review is needed.
The referral was made by the EIA committee at its third meeting, with members reaching a consensus to either hold an extraordinary fourth meeting, or the project enters a second phase of environmental review, in which more stringent criteria apply.
Headed by anti-nuclear activist and National Taiwan University professor Kao Cheng-yan (高成炎), the project proposes drilling 10 geothermal wells in Lize (利澤) in Yilan County’s Wujie Township (五結) over a 10-year period. A private venture, the project is expected to cost NT$10 billion (US$304.2 million) and would generate up to 101 megawatts (MW) of electricity per year, making it the largest thermal power station in the nation.
With the wells burrowing deep past layers of rock and extending into the sea floor, the EIA committee expressed concern over active fault lines that lie at the proposed drilling site. It said the developer has not thoroughly surveyed the geological structure of the area or assessed the threat that earthquakes or other natural disasters could pose to the facility.
Fearing that such deep drilling might induce shallow earthquakes and cause pollution to the stratigraphic system and underground water, the committee referred the project to further review by the EIA grand assembly.
The committee also demanded that the developer conduct further seismic and geological studies and test drilling, map out an environmentally friendly withdrawal mechanism should the project be terminated and engage in comprehensive communication with residents.
Kao said that the technology that would be used to extract energy from geothermal resources involves inserting conduits into the rock layer and pumping cold water into the geothermal layer to absorb heat and generate steam power.
Engineer Wang Wei-ming (王偉民), who is in charge of project drilling, said that the conduit is made of a material that can withstand stress of up to 555 megapascals, which is more than 100 times more powerful than the pressure generated by the 921 Earthquake in 1999, so pipe fracture would not be a concern.
Given the technology used, should the conduit be fractured, there is only the risk of water leaking, but not of a steam explosion, Wang said.
Furthermore, should the faults dislocate, the wells would simply be abandoned and the project terminated without further geological and ecological impact, he said.
Groundwater pollution should not be a problem, since tap water and not groundwater would be used, with the plant estimated to use 250 tonnes of water every day, which is significantly less than other plants at Lize, Kao said.
Saying that test drilling and a geological survey should be funded by the government instead of being initiated by private developers, Kao threatened to withdraw the project and resubmit a larger one that proposes generating 250MW of electricity every year.
However, he agreed to the project entering a second phase of environmental review if the EIA grand assembly decides it is needed based on the current proposal.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-ching (田秋堇) proposed holding an extra review by geological experts, given concern over the project’s geological impact.
Two of the committee members are geologists, but none were present at the meeting on Wednesday.
Citing the US’ policy on renewable energy, Tien said that Taiwan should not fall behind in the global pursuit of green energy, especially when the nation spends NT$1 trillion every year importing energy.
TOO TIRED: Investigators found that the pilot’s lack of alertness could be attributed to a lack of sleep the previous night, when he had slept with his child It was a copilot’s inappropriate operation of the aircraft and the pilot’s insufficient alertness that led to a hard landing of a China Airlines cargo flight on Dec. 13, 2018, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Flight CI6844, a Boeing 747-409 which departed from Hong Kong International Airport, landed on the pre-threshold area of runway L5 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, about 21m before the head of the runway, an investigation report said. The hard landing damaged three runway lights, but none of the personnel on board sustained any injuries, the report said. When approaching the runway, the copilot failed to maintain
DISTRUST WARRANTED? The WHO is under China’s control and has become a useless organization, while data from China cannot be trusted, a Control Yuan member said China’s demand that the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, not be referred to with names like the “Wuhan pneumonia” betrays its lack of confidence in itself, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told lawmakers yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) asked Su, during a interpellation at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, for his view on China’s attempts to redeem its national image in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time
Taipei residents who stay at hotels in the city during their 14-day mandatory quarantine period are eligible to apply for the city’s NT$7,000 subsidy, with online applications to be launched next week. Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) on Monday said Taipei residents who have COVID-19 Health Declaration and Home Quarantine Notice dated after March 19 and a quarantine hotel receipt for the dates covered by the quarantine period, would be eligible for the subsidy. The Taipei City Government on Sunday told the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) that so many city residents are under home quarantine that about 90 percent of
REPEAT OFFENDER: The man went outside for exercise on Wednesday and then left his home on Saturday with his girlfriend, officials said A New Taipei City man has been fined NT$400,000 (US$13,221) and ordered into government quarantine after breaking home quarantine for a second time on Saturday. The 25-year-old man, surnamed Chen (陳) returned to Taiwan on Sunday last week and was ordered to home quarantine until Sunday. He was seen leaving his home on a scooter with his girlfriend on Saturday, three days after he was fined NT$200,000 for going outside to exercise, police said. Chen has now been placed in a quarantine center arranged by the district office and health center of the district where he lives, police said. Police warned the public