Wed, Jan 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Natural gas plant rejected by environmental review

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

People protest outside the Environmental Protection Administration in Taipei yesterday ahead of an environmental impact assessment meeting on CPC Corp Taiwan’s planned gas terminal in Datan Borough in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District, which they say threatens nearby algal reefs.

Photo: CNA

CPC Corp, Taiwan’s (CPC) plan to build a third liquefied natural gas terminal in Taoyuan was yesterday rejected by an environmental impact assessment committee, which asked it to submit more documentation by April.

The proposed terminal project at Guantang Industrial Park in the city’s Guanyin District (觀音) was turned down by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) committee after a review meeting.

At a news conference before the meeting, environmental groups urged the committee to base its review on professionalism, not politics.

The project would jeopardize Polycyathus chaishanensis, an endangered species of coral, and algal reefs in the intertidal zones off Datan Borough (大潭), the groups said, calling on the company to build the terminal elsewhere.

The Council of Agriculture in a legislative session on Monday promised that it would spend about NT$10.73 million (US$364,941) to conduct a one-year study with Academia Sinica about local ecosystems starting in March, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said, urging the committee to postpone its review until the council’s report is released.

The groups stalled the meeting for more than two hours by challenging the legitimacy of its procedures and the council’s inaction in legally protecting the species.

Committee member Liu Ching-yu (劉靜榆), associate researcher at the council’s Endemic Species Research Institute, said the utility’s report contains many errors, such as the kind of species on Datan’s coast, and called on the committee to reject the project.

The project is urgent because it is expected to supply between 8 percent and 10 percent of the nation’s natural gas from July 2022, Bureau of Energy Deputy Director-General Lee Chun-li (李君禮) said.

If the terminal is to be built at another venue such as the ports of Taipei, Linkou or Taichung, it could only start supplying gas to the Datan Power Plant by 2027 or 2028, which would impede the government’s goal to generate half of the nation’s electricity from natural gas by 2025, the company said.

To reduce the project’s effect on the local ecology, the CPC said it has curtailed its development areas from 232 hectares to 37 hectares and canceled the construction plans for less relevant facilities, such as petrochemical products.

Schedule delay is the main reason the company did not opt for the other venues, CPC vice president J.Z. Fang (方振仁) said.

The company would avoid affecting or dislocating the protected coral in the intertidal zones, Fang said, adding that it would monitor the construction process around the clock through a closed-circuit television system.

The committee asked the developer to submit more documentation on ecology and another impact assessment by April 30, and advised the EPA to convene an expert meeting to discuss the project’s potential effect on local ecosystems.

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