Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The saga of the CTSP Erlin Science Park and the Kuokuang Petrochemical Project

A local resident holding up a protest sign outside the Environmental Protection Administration during a hearing on the Erlin Science Park last month.

Some interesting comment on the CTSP Erlin Science Park project from the Taiwanwatch blog. An English translation of their article appears below. A shortened version of this article appeared in Apple Daily.

The Folly of the Forth Stage Expansion and Kuokuang Petrochemical Project
By Xie and Lin

Despite repeated criticism, on 13 October the contentious environmental impact report of the fourth stage expansion of the Central Taiwan Science Park was finally granted provisional approval. The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) maintains that the environmental impact assessment examination was conducted professionally, and was not granted provisional approval due to pressure from the developer, the Central Taiwan Science Park Bureau of the National Science Council. Nevertheless, the 13 October extension meeting of the fifth preliminary examination and the 31 October Environmental Impact Assessment Committee meeting were conducted behind layers of security blocking out locals that would be harmed by the development and opposed environmental organizations, clearly demonstrating that the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee was not free from strong pressure from the administration.

In a press release, issued during a break in the fifth preliminary examination meeting, the EPA noted that the project developer, the National Science Council, revised its original development plan in order to address misgivings of the public and environmental organizations regarding the preliminary examination process; therefore it was fair and reasonable that the Secretary-General of the Executive Yuan convene a council of the various concerned ministries and commissions in order to discuss and confirm the feasibility of the latest development plan revisions. Before the extension meeting of the fifth preliminary examination, Premier Wu Den-yih revealed the council’s conclusion regarding the revised wastewater drainage route; specifically, the wastewater would not be discharged into the Zhuoshui River or the old Zhuoshui River bed, but rather diverted to an estuary or offered to Kuokuang Petrochemical Company for cooling purposes (see report in Commercial Times, 3 Oct. 2009). Curiously, the revised drainage route did not appear in the developer’s explanation of the environmental impact report or in the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee’s records, and the first line item of the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee’s preliminary examination conclusion report suggests a mysterious meeting of minds among the developer, high-ranking administrative officials, and the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee. If high-ranking administrative officials and the developer actually respect the environmental impact assessment process, all details regarding how the revisions were drafted and evaluated should be made public and resubmitted to the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee. However this glaring defect remains unaddressed and extraordinary clairvoyance or providential coincidences emerged in the preliminary examination conclusion report. This being the case, tell me please, what happened to the independence of the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee? And what happened to the rights of the public to be informed and participate in policymaking?

It has long been the case that officials presiding over economic issues and elected politicians use their authority to push through development plans or policies that have not undergone environmental impact assessment and flout national land planning regulations. Without consulting those citizens whose rights and interests will be affected, they make promises to potential beneficiary businesses and stakeholders, and then resort to various forms of political manipulation to force the EPA and Environmental Impact Assessment Committee to toe the line. The fourth stage expansion of the Central Taiwan Science Park is a classic example. Such a myopic political agenda and an economic development policy that flouts environmental evaluation not only threatens the independence of the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee, but also tramples on the environment and the rights and interests of the people and threatens national development.

Still more lamentable, even in the wake of Mother Nature’s warnings, the proponents of these shortsighted projects have not paused for reflection. After the “flooding of 88” [flooding that came with Typhoon Morakot beginning on 8 August 2009], not only have climate change-induced disasters left Taiwanese in a state of heightened anxiety, but they continue to ravage people all over the world. In this state of affairs, the newly installed Minister of Economics, Shi Yansiang, remarked at a business affairs meeting earlier this month, “In the future, every development project will be prioritized according to those ‘issues of most importance’” (meaning priority will be given to the fourth stage expansion of the Central Taiwan Science Park, Kuokuang Petrochemical Company, and the fifth stage expansion of the Sixth Naphtha Cracker Plant), with the primary goal of increasing opportunities for employment. His address entirely ignored that the economic and environmental impacts of these development projects are also “issues of most importance.” To continue ignoring these “issues of most importance” will create obstacles to dealing with climate change and result in the loss of an ideal opportunity to begin developing in a more sustainable fashion.

The fourth stage expansion of the Central Taiwan Science Park will primarily increase production capacity of TFT-LCDs and semiconductors. These two industries of “most importance” not only nearly collapsed under the assault of the financial tsunami, but will continue to face increasingly destructive international competition. The expansion will definitely not create more employment opportunities and a more stable socioeconomic situation. This is not a Blue Ocean Strategy. Furthermore, the environment and health risks that will come with it—various poorly understood toxic pollutants present in gaseous emissions and wastewater effluents, consumption of water resources, greenhouse gas emissions—will be difficult to bear, especially considering the site of the expansion plan in Changhua County. This water deficient region is already suffering surface subsidence due to over-extraction of groundwater. The project will not only take hundreds of hectares of farmland that help prevent floods, retain groundwater, and sequester carbon dioxide and turn them into cement lots with impermeable surfaces; but will also pump 4800 tons of groundwater daily (in the short-term) and transfer 66,500 tons of water daily from agricultural water resources drawn from the Jiji diversion weir (in the medium-term). In the long term it is planned to use 160,000 tons daily from the Dadu diversion weir, which is still only in the planning stages. If this project doesn’t exacerbate surface subsidence and render coastal areas more vulnerable to climate change-induced rising sea levels and increasingly frequent and violent extreme weather events, then it will force more agricultural areas to lay fallow, reducing national self-sufficiency and threatening food security.

Agriculture, an essential and foundational industry totally dependent on the weather, will be most affected by climate change. The government is not considering strengthening our agricultural industry’s ability to cope with climate change through conservation of water resources and reducing consumption in order to guarantee sufficient water for agriculture and daily use; but on the contrary repeatedly rolls out development plans that will exacerbate climate change and weaken agriculture. Increasingly precious water resources are being proffered to a minority of manufacturing businesses to squander in an attempt to maintain a tenuous grip on global luxury product markets. Could this be anything but suicide?

Climate change is already an urgent threat, and we have little time to effectively address it. If humanity is to avert imminent dangerous climate change, immense transformations must be carried out including dramatic shifts in industrial development and energy infrastructure. Before 2050 greenhouse gas emissions must be approaching zero, and before the end of the century we must achieve negative greenhouse gas emissions—the emissions that we continue to pump into the atmosphere today must somehow be physically removed. This arduous mission also offers enormous opportunities for economic development, however, and is a turning point for more environmental friendly development. This is an opportunity to create a renewable energy-based, highly efficient economy, and throw off our reliance on imported fuels such as oil and coal. This not only will increase our energy autonomy, but will greatly reduce the emission of numerous pollutants. Only a system that can meet our basic needs with local resources and relies on sustainable, locally produced energy warrants the label “Taiwan’s Economic Development Blue Ocean Strategy.”

Unfortunately, following the financial tsunami our government continues to emphasize investment of increasingly scarce resources in large-scale, greenhouse gas-intensive development projects, not only swallowing up vast resources necessary for the radical shift of our economic system, but intensifying the difficulty of averting dangerous climate change. The direct and indirect emissions of the fourth stage expansion of the Central Taiwan Science Park will amount to 10,950,000 tons of CO2 equivalent annually, equivalent to about 4% of our current total national emissions. Added to the emissions of Kuokuang Petrochemical, the fifth stage expansion the Sixth Naphtha Cracker Plant, and the Dragon Steel project which has already passed its environmental evaluation, Taiwan will increase total emissions by 16%, more than the current emissions of the transportation, residential, or commercial sectors. In other words, every Taiwanese could stop driving or stop using electricity at home and the reductions would still not equal the emissions added by these heavy development projects! Could the government actually not understand that the more we increase our emissions today, the greater will be the burden of decreasing them tomorrow, the greater will be the dangers posed by climate change, and the less capable we will be to deal with them. If we don’t change our direction of development today, tomorrow we may not have the chance or the resources.






以中科四期這個主要是為了擴張面版業與半導體業的開發案為例,這兩個重中之重的產業不僅在金融海嘯來襲時幾乎不支倒地,未來更持續面臨高度且惡性的國際競爭,絕非吸納就業、穩定社經局勢的藍海策略;而其所帶來的環境與健康風險,包括廢氣與廢水中多種不明毒性化學物質的排放、水資源的耗用、溫室氣體的排放,卻是難以承受的。尤其該開發案的場址選在彰化這個因為水資源短缺且超抽地下水導致地層持續下陷的缺水區域,不僅讓數百公頃原本可以 滯洪、涵養地下水以及吸存二氧化碳的農業用地成了水泥鋪面,且規劃於短、中期使用自來水(每日0.48萬噸,來自地下水的抽取)及調用農業用水(每日6.65萬噸,來自集集攔河堰),長期則使用八字都還沒有一撇的大肚攔河堰(每日16萬噸),其後果不是造成地層下陷的惡化,使沿海地區更無力抵禦全球暖化所帶來的海平面上升危機以及頻率與強度越來越大的暴雨等極端氣候事件,不然就是造成更多的農田被強迫休耕,降低國內糧食自給率而危及糧食安全。


氣候變遷的危機已迫在眉睫,而我們已無多少時間可以有效回應:展望不久的將來,人類若要避免危險的氣候變遷,必須進行龐大的轉變,包括產業發展與能源基礎設施的急遽轉型,以在2050年前趨近零排放,同時更必須在本世紀前達到負排放,把今日人類排放的二氧化碳從大氣中抓下來。不過這艱鉅的任務亦提供了龐大的經濟發展機會,且是對環境更友善的發展契機:讓我們有機會發展成一個以再生能源為基礎並擁有高度能源效率的經濟體,以擺脫對石油與煤碳等進口燃料的依賴,如此不僅能提高能源自主性,更能減少相當多的污染排放,這 種立基於在地基本需求以及在地能資源的永續利用,才是我國經濟發展的藍海策略。

然而,政府卻在金融海嘯過後,依然強勢引導國內更形拮据的財務資源大舉投入高溫室氣體排放的開發案,不但排擠了經濟體急遽轉型所需的龐大經費,更加劇了我們避免危險氣候變遷的困難度:中科四期直接與間接的溫室氣體排放量達1,095萬噸二氧化碳當量,約為目前全國年排放量的4%左右,再加上國光石化、六輕五期與已通過環評的中龍鋼鐵,我國將因此增加16%的溫室氣體排放量,已高於交通部門或住商部門的排放量佔比 ;也就是說,全國老百姓都不要開車,或者生活上都不要用電,也抵不了這幾個重開發案的排放增量!政府官員難道連這都不明白,今日我們溫室氣體排放的越多,未來我們的減量負擔就越重,所承受的氣候變遷風險也會越大,因應的能力也會越弱;今日我們的發展方向不改變,明日我們可能連改變的機會與資源都沒有了。


1. 〈環保署要求給環評委員獨立的審查環境〉,環保署新聞稿,2009年10月6日。

2. 〈中科四期廢水排放 有解〉,工商時報,2009年10月3日。

3. 〈吳揆促建 友達二林廠 國光石化〉,蘋果日報,2009年10月2日。

Also see:
Leave Taiwan's future a clean Chuoshui River

Stop the CTSP Erlin Science Park; Protect Farmers, Fishermen and the Taiwan Humpback Dolphins.

Update: Stop the CTSP Erlin Science Park - Protect Farmers, Fishers and the Taiwan Humpback Dolphins.

Taiwan Humpback Dolphin Extinction Guaranteed by Ma and Wu’s Cat in the Hat Economics?

Black Friday for Erlin - The EPA once again strikes a blow against the environment

All three effluent discharge proposals for Central Taiwan Science Park development will lead to pollution of humpback dolphin habitat

More protests at the EPA against the CTSP Erlin Science Park

Taiwan's Humpback Dolphins face extinction

EPA responds to local fisherman's Erlin criticisms

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