The Supreme Administrative Court yesterday rejected the government’s appeal against a previous ruling on the Central Taiwan Science Park’s Phase 3 development project.
The court ruled that work at the Phase 3 zone in Cising Farm (七星農場) in Taichung County’s Houli Township (后里) must remain suspended, while the original ruling stopping work at the Phase 4 zone in Changhua County’s Erlin Township (二林) was revoked.
In late July, the Taipei High Administrative Court ruled construction work in both zones should be suspended because of the safety risk posed by the projects, which could cause irreparable environmental damage.
The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), the Central Taiwan Science Park Administration and the National Science Council appealed that decision last month.
Yesterday’s rejection of their appeal means the suspension of the Phase 3 development would remain in place until a new environmental impact assessment (EIA) report is submitted. Whether the suspension of Phase 4 will go ahead will be up to the Taipei High Administrative Court.
The Supreme Administrative Court rejected the appeal on several grounds.
First, it said the development could result in irreparable environmental damage, since the project failed to pass Article 5 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法), which deals with “development activities for which there is concern of adverse impact on the environment.”
Second, the operators failed to submit a health risk assessment report.
Third, the considerable amounts of hazardous wastewater being released at the Cising Farm site posed a danger. The affected area is near Niouchou Creek (牛稠坑溝) to the north of the park and downstream of the Shuang Liao (雙寮) water intake of Da-an Creek (大安溪). Water from this catchment area is used for irrigation and household water consumption, and therefore the release of polluted water in the area constituted a risk to health and safety, the court said.
It also said the chemical toxins in the wastewater were found to pose a considerable threat to the environment and the health of local residents.
Fourth, the suspension of the development would not have an adverse impact on public interests. The interests of the companies themselves constitute private interests.
Fifth, the Taipei High Administrative Court had already annulled the EIA report, therefore the report should be considered revoked.
Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) responded by saying Phase 3 had already passed an EIA, and therefore the court’s rejection of the appeal was immaterial.
The park administration said it was surprised, but added it would carry on with construction of public infrastructure in the Phase 3 area since it had obtained the EPA’s approval to do so.
Park administration director-general Yang Wen-ke (楊文科) said companies with operations in the Phase 3 area would not be affected by yesterday’s ruling.
The nation’s No. 2 LCD panel maker, AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), is one of the biggest firms in the park. It was set to install equipment for its second 8.5-generation plant there later this year, paving the way for the launch of TV panel production next year.
Yang said the park administration has updated assessments of the impact on the environment and health of residents in the area, which also received approval from the EPA.
The agency’s EIA committee gave conditional approval to the Phase 3 development project at the park on Tuesday, saying that although manufacturing activities would be suspended, construction work could continue.
Yang expected the construction work to be resumed in the middle of this month at the earliest.
The Executive Yuan said it would wait until it received a written copy of the ruling to comment.
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