The Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) Environment Impact Assessment general assembly yesterday approved an amended plan for a submarine power cable between Penghu and Yunlin counties and the second phase of the development project at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT’s A7 Station.
The airport MRT station plan was proposed by the Ministry of the Interior to develop the area into a new community composed mainly of two sections — an industrial district and an affordable housing district.
MRT A7 Station Development Project Self-Help Group chairwoman Hsu Yu-hung (徐玉紅) said during the assembly that the majority of the development area is located on sloping land, which includes a landfill site and a seismic zone, and it is also close to a source of water for existing residential areas, so local residents are worried that the project may lead to landslides or affect water quality.
The Control Yuan chastised the A7 Station project over an inadequate administrative procedure after it opened bidding for land in the area before it had completed land expropriation, she said, adding that the project is in violation of basic human rights protected by the Constitution.
However, the committee members found that the environmental impact was within acceptable levels and so there was no need to initiate a second round of environmental impact reviews.
Hung Chia-hung (洪嘉宏), director-general of the Construction and Planning Agency’s Urban and Rural Development Branch, said the agency has held meetings in the community to explain issues and answer questions from local residents and that it would conform to a low-density development principle, with the affordable housing district accounting for only about 1.27 percent of the total development area.
He also said that the project would take into account water and soil conservation needs.
Another project discussed in the meeting was the proposal by Taiwan Power Co to amend the route of an underwater cable connecting Kouhu Township (口湖) in Yunlin County on Taiwan’s western coast and Jianshan (尖山) in Penghu.
The approximately 66km cable — 58.85km underwater and 7.47km on land — for transmitting electricity between the two sides, was approved by the administration in 2008.
However, as Kouhu residents expressed concern that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the high-voltage cable could cause health issues, Taipower proposed an amendment to reroute the cable, as well as bury it within the vicinity of the township.
During the meeting, members of a self-help association from Kouhu said the underground cable would follow a road on which local elementary and junior-high students walk to school every day, so they are worried that the electromagnetic radiation would cause health issues for the students.
Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華), founder and chairperson of the Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association, said electromagnetic radiation is listed as a Group 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation of 3 to 4 milligauss increases the occurrence rate of leukemia in children by two times.
Residents and environmentalists urged the EIA committee members not to approve the project unless Taipower could guarantee that electromagnetic radiation levels would not increase after the cable began operations.
Taipower said it would be technically difficult to achieve the protesters’ demands, but it promised to do its best to control electromagnetic radiation levels.
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