Environmentalists protest plans for coal-fired power plant

Taipei, A number of environmental groups protested outside the Executive Yuan building Wednesday to demand that the government withdraw its plans to reopen and expand the Shen'ao coal-fired power plant in New Taipei.

Some 50 people from organizations including the Green Citizens' Action Alliance, Greenpeace, Homemakers United Foundation, and Citizen of the Earth Taiwan carried signs reading "Withdraw" and pushed for a Cabinet representative to come out to face the crowd.

Tsai Ya-ying (???), an attorney with the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, criticized the process through which the Environmental Protection Administration's (EPA) Environmental Impact Assessment Committee conducted its review that led to the decision to restart and expand the power plant.

Tsai said the process was flawed on many counts, including the many alterations to the proposal made by state-run utility Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), making it necessary for the expansion project to be reevaluated.

Many of the protesters were also concerned about the effect that installing two 600 MW coal-burning generators will have on the public's health and the environment.

Yi Jo-lan (???), a mother and resident of Shen'ao, said the Shen'ao power plant, which is currently closed, has severely affected the health of people living close to it in the past few decades.

She said many of her friends and neighbors have died as a result, and as a mother it was her responsibility to protect her child.

Researchers from the environmental groups also questioned the government's rationale for wanting to reopen the power plant, arguing that its coal-fired generators will generate more carbon emissions than a natural gas-fired power plant.

They also rejected the idea that failing to expand the plant could lead to more energy shortages in northern Taiwan.

Liao Yaw-chung (???) of the Cabinet's Department of Economics, Energy and Agriculture accepted the protesters' petition on behalf of the Cabinet.

The New Power Party held a press conference to voice its opposition to the plant's expansion, with some of its candidates for city and county councilor seats in Taiwan's year-end elections asking the President Tsai Ing-wen (???) administration to withdraw the plan.

Lin Jui-wen (???) and Chen Chih-ming (???), who are running for council seats in Yilan County and New Taipei, respectively, were worried about the impact the plant will have on the environment, including consequences the government may not fully comprehend.

Chen asked the government to reevaluate the project and propose an alternative that is more beneficial to the health of Taiwan's citizens.

EPA chief Lee Ying-yuan (???) reacted to the protest and a recent Greenpeace survey showing that 75 percent of northern Taiwan residents are opposed to the plan by saying relevant agencies should try harder to communicate and explain the project to the public.

Defending the government's decision, he said the two ultra-supercritical generators to be installed at the Shen'ao facility will emit carbon at levels that comply with international standards.

The environmental groups' opinions will make government agencies more keen on protecting the environment as they go ahead with the project, Lee said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel