Saturday, August 20, 2011

Driving the pink dolphins to extinction with green wind energy

And yet another threat to the survival of the critically endangered Taiwan pink dolphins. SHIH Yen-hsiang, Minister of Economic Affairs, wants 1000 wind turbines off Taiwan's coast by 2030. And where does he plan to start? Miaoli! Yes, Miaoli. Well within the confirmed range of Taiwan's critically endangered pink dolphins. It's going to be interesting to see exactly how green the likes of Swancor and others wind power industry are. Will they be principled enough to say the location of these projects within pink dolphin habitat is wrong? Or will they just go for the money and damn the consequences?

See an English translation of an article that appeared in United Daily News:
Swancor Aims at One Billion NT$ Wind Power Business Opportunity
Economic Daily News
Reporter Zhou Yi Long
2011.07.21 03:57 am

SHIH Yen-hsiang, Minister of Economic Affairs, pledged yesterday to actively develop offshore wind power and called for more than 1,000 wind turbines along Taiwan’s coast by 2030, with two trial development cases to be announced next month. Swancor Wind Blade Materials, expressed their confidence to win the bid and have planned to set up the first off-shore wind farms in Miaoli as early as 2012.

To produce 100-200 turbines for the subsequent large-scale business operation, Swancor pointed out that they will introduce investment partners and be in charge of operation

Swancor said that last year the company had been already cooperating with wind power companies Taiwan Generations Corp and Red Blades Windtek Corporation to build Taiwan’s first off-shore wind farm in Changhua county. Due to controversy over the endangered White Dolphin as well as other controversies, Swancor decided to change site, opt out of the partnership, and established subsidiary company, Cross-Straits New Energy Company ( provisional translation :海峽新能源公司,) for the promotion of wind power business. Swancor selected the area off of the Miaoli coast as the new development site due to the lack of environmental protection and fisheries issues, , and expressed their strong interest to cooperate with Ministry of Economic Affairs in promoting the development project..

SHIH Yen-hsiang, Minister of Economic Affairs, recently released sections of the new energy policy. In the presence of the favorable offshore environment and the need to accelerate renewable energy development, the government will actively pursue offshore wind energy development. This includes more than 1,000 wind turbines by 2030, total capacity of 4,200 MW equivalent to three nuclear power plants, cumulative industrial value of 500 billion NT dollars[17 billions USD], or 3.3% of total electricity supply.

Ministry of Economic Affairs claimed that two trial development cases will be launched next month with at least one billion NT dollars (34 millions USD) subsidy in place for two businesses to set up an off-shore wind mill demonstration by 2015, Taiwan's first offshore wind turbine. Following installments will be employed in Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi offshore with an annual growth rate of 240MW

Ministry of Economic Affairs pointed out that domestic supply chain of wind turbine industry are well developed; companies such as TECO Electric and Machinery Co, Formosa Heavy Industries Corporation, Taiwan Advanced Composite Center, China Steel Machinery Corporation, and Swancor, are all well-equipped to for system assembly and manufacture of key components

上緯 瞄準10億風電商機
2011.07.21 03:57 am







【2011/07/21 經濟日報】@

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Friday, August 12, 2011

For Your Information President Ma: “I am touched” Won’t Save the Taiwan Pink Dolphins

Press Release:

Press conference to be held by Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union, Changhua Environmental Protection Union, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Society of Wilderness, Taiwan Sustainability Union…….

Time: 1030 am Saturday 13 August 2011
Venue: Taipei Guest House (#1 Katekelan Blvd corner at intersection with Gongyuan Road)

Dozens of young people sent “save the Taiwan pink dolphins” postcards earlier this year to President Ma Ying-jeou imploring him to use his office to help ensure that all responsible agencies do whatever it takes to restore health and safety to the population of Sousa chinensis [pink dolphins] that inhabit the waters along the west coast of Taiwan. Mr. Ma, upon receiving the post cards said “I am very touched”.

However, 13 August 2011 marks the third anniversary the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) designation of the Taiwan Sousa population as CR or “critically endangered”, only one step away from extinction. The efforts taken by Taiwan to protect the dolphins and their habitat have fallen pitifully short of what is needed, raising concerns that this special population of animals unique to Taiwan could soon be lost forever.

On Saturday, 13 August 2011 we will deliver a petition to the president’s office expressing our hopes that Mr. Ma and all of those in his government, in addition to their being “moved” will take action appropriate to the severity of the situation for this population of fewer than one hundred animals and the habitat with which they share with millions of human occupants in western Taiwan.

We have the following three demands:
1. immediately declare “important habitat” for the area inhabited by the dolphins in accordance with the Wildlife Protection Act
2. confront and deal with illegal fishing practices in the area
3. convene an interagency meeting inviting environmental advocacy groups to deal with the five major threats* to the dolphins that were identified in the petition delivered to the Executive Yuan in January 2008.

We will show pictures at the press conference of emaciated and injured dolphins and will join a parade of large and small dolphins to the president’s office to deliver our petition!

For further information please contact Grace Gan (Ah Gan) Secretary General of the Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union 0928-926180

*habitat destruction, water and air pollution, noise, improper fishing practices, reduced flow of fresh water into estuaries.

報告馬總統:感動救不了白海豚 記者會採訪通知



今年年初數十位小朋友將寫滿「救救白海豚」的明信片送至總統府,希望馬英九總統能讓白海豚繼續健康快樂地活下去,收到明信片的總統直呼非常感動。但是,明天就是IUCN(國際自然保育聯盟)將台灣白海豚列入「極度瀕危(CR, Critically Endangered)」等級的三週年,回顧這三年政府的保育作為與進度,實在令人憂心。因此,明天上午環保團體與民眾將到總統府前陳情,請總統在感動之餘,更要付出實際行動和關注,否則這樣是救不了僅剩不到一百頭的白海豚的!
(1) 盡速劃設公告白海豚重要棲息環境
(2) 正視及處理不當漁法的問題
(3) 重啟跨部會議處理五大威脅*議題


新聞聯絡人:台灣媽祖魚保育聯盟 甘小姐 0928-926180

* 五大威脅為棲地破壞與消失、水與空氣汙染、水下噪音、漁具誤纏以及淡水注入減少。

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The myth of industrial development

One of seven recent fires at Formosa Plastics. This one was in late July 2010: Photo courtesy of MFCU.

A letter by Chi Chun-chieh in today's Taipei Times provides some perspective on the history of Formosa Plastics Group's sixth naphtha cracker plant in Mailiao Township (麥寮), Yunlin County. Just a brief note on a single point that we tend to differ in our opinion to that of Chi's letter. Chi states, "Quite a lot of people living in the area followed in the tracks of Mailiao residents before them, accepting the government’s promises and supporting the petrochemicals construction project. Luckily, thanks to the efforts of environmental groups and people from other areas, the Dacheng project was stopped."

Our observation was that indeed "quite a lot of people" living in the area did support the project but at the same time there were many that didn't. Ongoing protests and opposition to the petrochemical project by many local people who depend on the Dacheng wetlands for their livelihood were well documented. Being one of the major environmental NGOs involved in the issue our view was the Kuokuang Petrochemical Project was halted thanks to the efforts of both locals and people from other areas coupled with the efforts of both local and international environmental, science and social justice groups.

Taipei Times
The myth of industrial development
By Chi Chun-chieh 紀駿傑 /
Tue, Aug 09, 2011

Industrial giant Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) has been hit by a wave of public opprobrium after the seventh fire in just one year broke out at its sixth naphtha cracker plant in Mailiao Township (麥寮), Yunlin County. The company has been criticized over the state of the plant’s pipeline system in particular, as well as its poor safety management and cost-cutting corporate culture. Aside from these problems there is another issue that deserves attention: the longstanding idea that business investment will bring prosperity and development to outlying areas — a promise often made by politicians and entrepreneurs.

Even before the recent big fires that have provoked protests by people living near the plant, two major fires that broke out at FPG’s sixth naphtha cracker in July last year had already prompted thousands of local residents to organize marches, block roads and surround the complex.

More than 20 years ago, it was opposition by people living in Yilan County, where FPG’s sixth naphtha cracker was originally going to be built, that forced FPG to choose the “outlying” area of Mailiao as the site for the complex. At the time, people in Yunlin welcomed the proposed plant in the belief that industrial development would bring them a prosperous future with plenty of jobs. Many people saw the plant as a money-spinner and celebrated its arrival.

The reception given to the project at the originally planned location in the Lize (利澤) area of Yilan County’s Wujie Township (五結) was very different from what happened later in Mailiao. In December 1987, then-FPG chairman Wang Yung-ching (王永慶) took part in a televised debate with then-Yilan County commissioner Chen Ding-nan (陳定南).

Wang said that if Chen gave the go-ahead for the plant to be built in Yilan, it would be a highly ethical decision that would bring great benefits to the county. Chen, however, responded by saying that if he allowed the complex to be built in Yilan he would be blamed for generations to come for what he called a “criminal error.”

In view of the seven fires in one year at the plant in Yunlin, and the protests that have followed, one can well imagine how thankful Yilan residents must feel today about Chen’s decision not to let FPG build the plant in their county.

In the two decades since it was built, the sixth naptha cracker plant has not brought the promised prosperity to the area. Instead, it has brought the threat of cancer and other illnesses, as well as the menace of fires that can and have broken out at any time. However, over on the other side of the Jhuoshui River (濁水溪), in Changhua County’s Dacheng Township (大城), the government was until the beginning of this year still offering the same old lures of “jobs and prosperity” to try and persuade local residents to support the construction of an eighth naphtha cracker plant.

Quite a lot of people living in the area followed in the tracks of Mailiao residents before them, accepting the government’s promises and supporting the petrochemicals construction project. Luckily, thanks to the efforts of environmental groups and people from other areas, the Dacheng project was stopped.

From now on, in view of the string of fires at the FPG complex in Mailiao, the myth that industrial development will bring prosperity to any area should come under stricter scrutiny and criticism than it sometimes has in the past.

Chi Chun-chieh is an associate professor at the Department of Ethnic Relations and Cultures at National Dong Hwa University.

Translated by Julian Clegg

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Local residents give Formosa an ultimatum

One of seven recent fires at Formosa Plastics. This one was in late July 2010: Photo courtesy of MFCU.

Excessive pollution levels have long been common place at Formosa Plastics Group’s petrochemical complex in Mailiao, Yunlin County. Formosa Plastics was the 2009 recipient of the infamous Black Planet Award; for those who have committed themselves to the destruction and downfall of our Blue Planet in an outstanding way. One would think that after been singled out for having such a horrendous environmental track record that Formosa would take steps to clean up their image. Not on your life. Unbelievably Formosa took their toxic output to new levels. There have been seven chemical fires at the complex in past year.

After two fires at the complex just last week local residents have had enough. On Monday residents from the surrounding townships of Taisi (台西), Baojhong (褒忠), Dongshih (東勢) and Lunbei (崙背) came out in protest demanding a full suspension of operations at the plant. Tomorrow, residents of Mailiao Township(麥寮) will protest to send an "ultimatum" to Formosa to clean up or face continuous mass protest action.

The Formosa Plastics Group’s petrochemical complex in Mailiao is built on reclaimed land that was once prime pink dolphin habitat. Current and planned reclamation projects at the plant are further reducing the little remaining habitat of the critically endangered Taiwan pink dolphins. Shipping traffic at Mailiao Port and excessive pollution levels from the Formosa Plastics Plant are serious threats to the continued survival of the Taiwan pink dolphins.

See Rally planned at Mailiao plant and Industrial accidents show up safety talk in today's Taipei Times.