CPC Corp, Taiwan’s plan to build a natural gas terminal in Datan Borough (大潭) Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音) poses a threat to the existence of an indigenous and endangered coral found in the area, Academia Sinica biodiversity researcher Chaolun Allen Chen (陳昭倫) said yesterday.
CPC plans to build its third liquefied natural gas terminal on yet-to-be reclaimed land off Datan adjacent to Kuantang Industrial Park.
The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on June 5 held an ad hoc committee review for the company’s environmental difference analysis report.
The company said algae reefs in Datan are sparse compared with the adjacent Kuanhsin (觀新) conservation area.
The EPA’s review meeting ended with no consensus and several committee members left early.
A second committee review is scheduled for Monday and Taoyuan Local Union director-general Pan Chong-cheng (潘忠政), who has fought for algae reefs for years, invited biologists to explain their significance.
“CPC keeps saying it has no alternative for the site, but it has paid no attention to the nation’s environment,” Pan said yesterday, adding that the algae reefs in Datan should be cherished as much as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Chen said that the endangered coral Polycyathus chaishanensis was recently discovered in Datan.
Chen first found the coral in Kaohsiung’s Chaishan (柴山) in 1990 and spent two decades settling its nomenclature.
In 2012, his findings about the coral were published in the journal Zoological Studies.
In March, Polycyathus chaishanensis was listed as a first-level endangered wild species by the Council of Agriculture (COA).
Chen said he found the coral also exists in Datan’s algae reefs after he analyzed samples from a field survey on June 8.
CPC’s development would affect the nation’s largest stretch of algae reefs in Datan and the wider vicinity, COA Endemic Species Research Institute associate researcher Liu Ching-yu (劉靜榆) said, adding that eight other coral species were found that might be new unnamed species.
“If CPC’s project is to go ahead, the nation’s only algae reef ecosystem would disappear,” she said.
The coast where the algae reefs grow should be listed as a conservation area, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association lawyer Tsai Ya-ying (蔡雅瀅) said.
The association applied for such a designation in 2008, but the council and the Taoyuan City Government have not taken further action, she said, adding that it was to file another proposal yesterday.
Taiwan Power Corp already operates a power plant in Datan, which has sufficient supply of natural gas, she said.
“Is it really necessary to build another natural gas terminal there?” she asked.
In a telephone interview yesterday, CPC spokeswoman Bi Su-chien (畢淑蒨) said: “We respect all opinions [on the coral issue], but the natural gas project is part of the government’s plan to phase out nuclear power by 2025.”
The project — which is expected to start operations at an annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes of natural gas in 2022 — is still awaiting EPA approval, Bi said.
The facility is to replace the existing four electric generators at the Tatan Power Plant (大潭電廠), she added.
Additional reporting by Kuo Chia-erh / Taipei Times