Thu, Jan 31, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Researchers urge halt to terminal plan over corals

DIVERSE ECOSYSTEM:Constructing the LNG terminal would risk destroying the rare corals, researchers said, urging CPC to propose an alternative development plan

By Yang Mien-chieh and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Conservationists and Academia Sinica researchers in Taipei yesterday call for a halt to the construction of CPC Corp, Taiwan’s planned liquefied natural gas terminal on the coast of Datan Borough in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District.

Photo: Yang Mien-chieh, Taipei Times

Academia Sinica researchers yesterday called for a halt to the construction of a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal after finding three types of rare coral off the coast of Taoyuan’s Datan Borough (大潭) last week.

The researchers said they found several clusters of the corals, with the largest measuring 110cm in diameter.

They called on Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) to establish a conservation area around the coral and halt the construction of state-owned CPC Corp, Taiwan’s (CPC) planned LNG terminal in the area.

The terminal, CPC’s third, passed and environmental impact assessment (EIA) review on Oct. 8 last year.

Researchers had previously discovered an algal reef at the site replete with marine life, Academia Sinica Biodiversity Research Center researcher Chen Chao-lun (陳昭倫) said.

Researchers were at the site on Wednesday last week when the tide was at its lowest to study Polycyanthus chaishanensis — a species of coral first discovered in shallow waters near Kaohsiung’s Takao Hill (also named Chaishan, 柴山) in 2010 — when they made the discovery, he said.

The finding marks the first time that Porites lobata (also known as lobe coral), Oulastrea crispata and Pseudosiderastrea tayami have been seen in the area, Chen said.

Building the LNG terminal at the site would risk destroying the rare corals, the researchers said.

More than 60 percent of Datan residents have agreed that large-scale construction projects should be halted if diverse marine life is discovered off the borough’s coast, Tunghai University life science professor Lin Hui-chen (林惠真) said, citing a Council of Agriculture survey of 1,500 people.

Research has shown that the Datan coast has a complete, healthy ecosystem that is home to various species of fish, crabs and invertebrates, she said.

Changes to the local environment since the EIA’s approval should be examined, Environmental Jurists Association director Chang Yu-yin (張譽尹) said.

The biggest source of the controversy surrounding the planned terminal is the algal reef, he said.

The discovery of the coral clusters adds to the controversy, because the government did not know about them when the EIA was passed, he said, adding that the new discovery means the EIA’s passage was a mistake and an oversight.

Echoing Chang’s sentiments, Rescue Datan’s Algal Reefs Alliance convener Pan Chong-cheng (潘忠政) said that CPC should submit an alternative development proposal for the terminal and should stop all work on current plans.

Pan called on the Ocean Conservation Administration to classify the coral as a class 1 protected species and to establish a conservation area as soon as possible, adding that the Ministry of Science and Technology should also research the corals.

Cheng must fulfill his campaign promise to protect Datan’s ecosystem, he said.

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