Wed, Sep 05, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Monitoring group shares concerns

Staff Writer, with CNA

An environmental monitoring group yesterday cautioned against giving a green light to environmental assessments for such controversial development projects as a large steel refinery and a petrochemical park.

The Environmental Assessment Monitoring Alliance said that if those major development projects pass their environmental assessments, a large portion of their added output will be shipped to China, which the alliance says will effectively turn Taiwan into China's "offshore industrial zone."

Also, the major development projects will produce additional carbon dioxide emissions and impose a further environmental burden on the people of Taiwan.

Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲), alliance spokesman and secretary-general of the Green Party, said that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) -- while visiting the sixth naphtha cracker park of the Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) in April -- said that the environmental assessment of the group's steel refinery project could be passed "conditionally."

The president's remarks are "worrisome," Pan said.

He said that figures released by the non-profit Metal Industries Research and Development Center show that the annual output of Taiwan's downstream metal producers is around 39 million tonnes.

Annual supplies now exceed demand by 19 percent, or around 6 million tonnes.

He questioned the Ministry of Economic Affairs' (MOEA) promotion of FPG's steel refinery project and the claim that supplies of upstream raw steel stand at only 76 percent of local demands.

He said that the MOEA had ignored the fact that steel operators export more than 10 million tonnes of steel products to China annually. If the new project is passed, most of the additional 7 million tonnes will be shipped to China as well.

He also said that most of the downstream petrochemical operators had already relocated to China, and if a new petrochemical park is established, there will be an oversupply of midstream plastics.

"If the two development projects are launched after their assessments, there will be additional emissions of 22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide," he said.

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