Having failed to quell local opposition, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday revised its burn-oriented waste management policy, announcing that four incinerator projects would be abandoned for good.
"Due to local opposition, the EPA has agreed to cancel four privately-operated incinerators," said Chen Lien-ping (陳聯平), the director-general of the EPA's Bureau of Incinerator Engineering at a press conference in Tainan County yesterday.
Chen said that the four to be cancelled include one in the Ta-an (大安) township of Taichung County, one in the Lukang (鹿港) township of Changhua County, one in northern Taoyuan and one in the Chiku (七股) township of Tainan County.
Chen said that the facility in Taichung had been regarded as redundant because the two existing public incinerators are now operating well below capacity.
EPA officials said that the cancellation of the other three facilities could in part be attributed to political changes following local elections held last December.
New Changhua County Commissioner Wong Chin-chu (
In Taoyuan County, Commissioner Chu Li-luan (朱立倫) introduced plans to transport its household waste to Taipei County in order to halt the building of an incinerator. Also, environmentalists have expressed concern over the project because of its proximity to protected water sources.
Tainan County Commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) argued that the county needs only one of the incinerators under construction -- the one being built in Yungkang township (永康). County officials said that the planned facility in Chiku was redundant and ill-advised.
The Yungkang plant is slated to burn as much as 900 tonnes of household waste a day, exactly the amount needed by the county, local environmental officials said.
Horst Borner, general manager of Germany-based Babcock Borsig Power, the builder of the Yungkang incinerator, told the Taipei Times yesterday that by the end of this year the plant would be operating and would enter its initial testing phase.
In addition, Commissioner Su and ecological activists voiced strong opposition to the project at Chiku due to potential damage to the sensitive environment at the Chiku Lagoon (
Meanwhile, the EPA's Chen said that the agency was even considering reducing the capacity for the remaining three incinerators in Penghu, Hualien and Nantou.
The revision is the first scaling-back of the EPA's ambitious incinerator program since 1992, when the Cabinet approved the agency's proposal to build 21 large public waste incinerators to ease pressure on the nation's overstuffed landfills.
In 1996, the EPA proposed an additional 15 privately operated incinerators.
At the time, the EPA expected 36 incinerators to be up and running by next year with about 90 percent of Taiwan's household garbage being burned.
However, due to the unexpected success of its recycling program and a much lower level of waste growth, the nation's existing incinerators now run well under capacity.
By next year, based on the EPA's original estimates, Taiwan's 36 incinerators would have been capable of burning 30,400 tonnes of household waste per day.
Last year, however, Taiwan generated only 19,932 tonnes of household waste per day.
For these reasons, the EPA has been widely criticized for sticking to its original waste management policy -- not only by environmentalists but also by legislators.
The 19 incinerators currently operating have a capacity of 21,000 tonnes of waste per day. Recent figures show, however, that they currently burn about 10,000 tonnes of household waste and 1,500 tonnes of industrial waste per day -- far below their capacity.
EPA officials pointed out, however, that some household waste in counties that lack incinerators still depend on landfills.
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