President urged to protect algal reefs along Taoyuan coast

[Taiwan] Environmental protection advocates asked President Tsai Ing-wen Tuesday to help with efforts to protect several-millennium-old algal reefs on the coastline of Taoyuan in northern Taiwan from harm by a natural gas terminal construction project.

Members of several environmental protection groups, headed by Taoyuan Local Union Director-General Pan Chong-cheng (潘忠政), issued the call at a press conference in Taipei, in which they presented over 4,300 postcards on the issue addressed to Tsai.

Last month, Pan launched a movement on the Taoyuan Local Union Facebook page, inviting people to write to Tsai, asking her to save the Taoyuan algal reefs that Pan said are 7,500 years old.

“Most of the postcards were from students who hope the Datan algal reefs can be kept intact,” said Pan.

However, the plan by state-run fuel supplier CPC Corp, Taiwan to build a natural gas terminal on yet-to-be reclaimed land off Datan in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District, will destroy the reefs and an endangered coral species living there, despite the company having promised to take measures to avoid impacting the coral habitat, Pan said.

Calling for the project to be moved elsewhere, Pan contended that it is the only way to protect the Datan algal reefs.

Pan said he would deliver the postcards to the Presidential Office after the press conference in the hope that the president will join in with efforts to save the reefs, which he described as a world natural heritage site.

The reefs are spread along about 27 kilometers of the coast of western Taiwan, one of the largest in the world, according to Pan, who assessed that about 2.5 km of the reef, covering 77 hectares, will be “buried alive” in the initial construction stage of the planned terminal, and up to 200 hectares might be destroyed by its completion.

Over the past several years, Pan has made the call to save the Datan algal reefs on numerous public occasions. However, the environmental protection drive has encountered strong resistance from the CPC.

In an interview with CNA, CPC Chairman Tai Chein (戴謙) vowed to push through the construction of the natural gas terminal, which he said is vital to the nearby Datan Power Plant’s operations.

Tai said that for Taiwan to become nuclear-free by 2025 and for the government’s efforts to maintain stable electricity supplies, the ratio of electricity generated by natural gas-fueled power plants must be raised from the current 36 percent to 50 percent by 2025.

The timing for building the planned natural gas terminal is crucial, because the demand for clean fuel will be certain to rise, which means that the Datan Power Plant, the largest gas-fired power plant in Taiwan, will be required to run at full capacity, said Tai.

So far, there has been no comment on the issue from the Presidential Office.


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