Sat, Mar 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Formosa’s desalination plant passes second review

WRANGLING:The EIA assessment committee passed the plan to a grand assembly for final approval. Local residents are anxious for the company to have its own water supply

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Formosa Plastics Group’s plan to build a seawater desalination plant yesterday obtained initial approval from an environmental impact assessment (EIA) committee after its second review, but Formosa is waiting for the next review to request the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to relax certain regulations.

Formosa plans to build a seawater reverse-osmosis desalination plant at its naphtha cracker complex in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮).

The plant would give Formosa an independent water supply.

Environmentalists have been accusing the manufacturer of using too much water from Nantou County’s Jiji Dam (集集攔河堰) and affecting the water supply for agricultural and residential users.

The plant, which is expected to cost about NT$5.4 billion (US$184.36 million), would harness the water discharged from Formosa’s Mailiao power plant to produce between 20,000 tonnes and 105,000 tonnes of desalinated water per day for industrial use, Formosa said, adding that it has partnered with the Israel-based IDE technologies in designing the plant.

Once finished, it would be the nation’s first large-scale desalination plant, but the project “is not related to” Formosa’s expansion plan for the naphtha cracker, Formosa’s Safety, Health and Environment Center deputy manager Wu Tsung-ching (吳宗進) said, adding that its construction would be completed three years after the project passes EIA review.

Despite their support for the project, environmentalists urged the EIA committee to set stricter criteria to supervise the plant’s construction.

“Local residents have been anticipating the plant,” Yunlin Shallow Sea Cultivation Association member Wu Jih-hui (吳日輝) said, adding that the government should stop providing Formosa with public water resources.

Formosa earns more than NT$200 billion per year, but it has been reluctant to spend NT$2 million carrying out the project, Association of Yunlin Art, Culture and Ecology member Lin Fu-yuan (林富源) said, calling on Formosa to stop “plundering” the water resources of local residents.

Formosa should identify the minimum and maximum amount of desalinated water to be produced at the plant every day and try to elevate the production amount gradually, EPA Bureau of Environmental Inspection section chief Wen Hsiu-hui said.

While Wu said the plant would be fully operational between February and May and produce 105,000 tonnes of desalinated water per day, other company executives refused to be so specific.

The committee should not specify a maximum amount, given that weather conditions can vary widely and the facility might have occasional problems, said Tony Horng (洪宗益), assistant vice president of Formosa’s environment center.

The EIA committee advised the EPA to approve the project, but asked the developer to submit more documentation about the project’s potential impact on marine life.

The committee plans to forward the project to the EIA grand assembly for a final review after receiving Formosa’s supplementary documentation.

Formosa is not satisfied with the committee’s conclusion and would seek to cancel the maximum requirement at the EIA grand assembly, Horng said.

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