[Taipei Times]Activists, farmers clash with police outside EPA
ARK LIFE: Liao Ming-tien said the Taichung County Science Park would take all the water, pollute the soil and that monetary compensation would be useless
By Jenny W. Hsu
Tuesday, Mar 02, 2010, Page 2
Environmental activists burn a model of the Environmental Protection Administration building in Taipei yesterday during a protest in front of the agency over the Central Taiwan Science Park’s third-stage development project.
More than 100 environmental activists and farmers clashed with police during a protest at the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday, demanding an immediate halt to all construction work at the Central Taiwan Science Park, citing irreversible pollution.
Protesters threatened to put the science park under siege by the middle of this month if the EPA refused to stop the work.
Calling Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) the “ringleader” of a gang destroying farmland and killing residents of the county, the protesters said the EPA had violated a Supreme Administrative Court verdict in January which ruled the 2005 environmental impact assessment had been invalid.
A second review should take place before the project is given the green light because the plan was deemed to have “serious environmental consequences” for local residents, the court ruling said.
The former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration approved the site for use as a high-tech science park five years ago. Environmental groups fought the decision and eventually convinced the court to look into the matter.
In January, the Supreme Administrative Court sided with the protesters and ruled that, because of the complexity of the issue and the potential health threat to local residents, the EPA should have conducted a second assessment before giving the companies the go-ahead to start construction.
Several firms have continued construction in spite of the ruling.
“The EPA blatantly disregarded the law. Since when is it OK for a government agency to break the law and get away with it?” asked a 23-year-old protester surnamed Lee, who was part of a throng demanding that the EPA force all of the companies to halt construction until a further assessment had been conducted.
Lee said he was advised not to give his full name for fear of police retaliation.
Protesters burned an effigy of the EPA building and two straw men representing Shen, while a shaman staged a “prayer service” beseeching the gods to “bring the EPA to its senses.”
More than 100 uniformed officers were deployed and a physical altercation occurred when the police forcibly put out the fire with an extinguisher.
Protesters shouted “police violence” and called for Shen’s resignation.
In a press release, the EPA reiterated its stance that the National Science Council (NSC) was the government agency in charge of the project, not the EPA.
Sections 14 and 22 of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act (環境影響評估法) were irrelevant to this case because they only apply to developments and commercial operations that have never been approved by an EIA review committee, the press release said.
The EPA said the companies have been required to conduct additional health risk assessments to be submitted to the EIA review committee. Companies that do not pass the second assessment would have their construction permit revoked.
Liao Ming-tien (廖明田), a Houli Township (后里鄉) flower farmer, said he has nothing against big corporations, but the government owes the people an explanation.
“The science park will use up most of the water supply in the area, which means we would have insufficient water for irrigation. The toxins produced by the science park will seep through and eventually cause irreversible damage to crops and soil,” Liao said, saying the government’s offer of monetary compensation would be “useless.”
Potato farmer Chiang Ching-wu (江清武) feared the pollution would last for generations and jeopardize the health of the entire nation because “people, including Shen and his family, would be consuming toxic fruit and vegetables.”
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