Environmentalists on Friday said the design of an underground railway project in downtown Tainan might cause flooding, demanding the suspension of the construction and urging the local government to re-evaluate the project.
Tainan Environmental Protection Alliance head Huang An-tiao (黃安調) said that the project, which seeks to lay 8.23km of railway tracks in Tainan’s Yongkang District (永康) 30m underground, would significantly alter local hydrology and groundwater levels and might cause flooding in the city’s densely populated areas.
Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union spokesperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said that according to National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) research, partition walls of the underground railway system would obstruct the east-to-west flow of groundwater, raising the groundwater level at the east of the railway and lowering the level at the west of the railway by 2m.
“Areas within a 1km radius of the underground railway could experience flooding during heavy rainfall. Neighborhoods near Chi Mei Hospital and NCKU Hospital [in Yongkang District (永康) and North District (北) respectively] would be affected the most, while flooding could reach as far as the Chimei Museum” in the city’s Rende District (仁德), Chen said.
Lowered groundwater levels to the west of the railway could lead to seawater intrusion and ground subsidence, she added.
Chen and Huang said that the environmental review of the project, which was passed in 2010, failed to assess local hydrology and groundwater level changes, demanding the construction be halted and the city government reinvestigate the possible effects of the project.
However, the city government cited a Ministry of Transportation and Communications assessment conducted in 2011, which said that groundwater levels on the east and west of the railway would only rise by 64cm and fall by 69cm respectively after the completion of the project, and would not cause flooding.
Parts of the partition walls could be removed after the construction is completed to reduce groundwater level alteration to 24cm and minimize impact on nearby buildings, the city government said.
Locals filed an administrative suit in 2012 to revoke the environmental approval the project received in 2010 and to launch a new round of reviews, but the Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Thursday last week to uphold the approval.
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