Sat, Mar 31, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Civil groups urge government to amend the EIA act

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance executive director Kuo Ching-lin shows pictures of Cianhua Village in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District at a news conference held by several civil groups in Taipei yesterday to urge the amendment of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Civil groups yesterday urged the Executive Yuan to amend the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法) during this legislative session, in light of a controversy over the Shenao Power Plant (深澳電廠), which obtained approval from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

The EPA’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) grand assembly on March 14 approved Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) project to build a new coal-fired Shenao plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳), after the plant was demolished in 2011.

EPA Deputy Minister and assembly chairperson Chan Shun-kuei (詹順貴) has come under fire due to his decisive vote for the project when assembly members were tied 8-8.

Despite his personal objection to the project, he was not entitled to reject it under the current legal framework, as the project had passed an assessment in 2006, Chan said, calling on the public to turn their fury into calls for amending the act.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) on Tuesday last week promised to send the act’s draft amendment to the Legislative Yuan within six months, but environmental groups yesterday questioned his resolve to reform the assessment system.

The EPA in September last year launched its draft amendment to the act, and the Executive Yuan should forward it to the legislature soon, as the legislature will become idle with the approach of the local elections on Nov. 24, the Environmental Jurists Association said.

The Shenao project highlights a significant defect of the current assessment system, as the utility is not required to re-evaluate local environmental conditions when building the plant, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance researcher Wu Cheng-cheng (吳澄澄) said.

The act should be amended to require project developers to conduct new assessments if they fail to complete construction in a given period, she said.

While Taipower is conducting a second-stage assessment for decommissioning the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門), it did not provide thorough information to local residents, who now can only argue with the utility about compensation, Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance executive director Kuo Ching-lin (郭慶霖) said.

The government should help residents interpret the difficult information about nuclear power plants, as the utility has to decommission two other nuclear plants and the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research, and tackle the nuclear waste on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), Kuo said, adding that the act should call for greater public participation during assessments.

Other groups said that the act should also include regulations about strategic environmental assessments for large-scale developments, such as offshore wind farms, confirm an assessment’s effect on a development’s approval and sever the symbiotic relation between developers and consulting firms.

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