By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Coast Guard Administration (CGA, 海巡署) yesterday said there is no need for an environmental impact evaluation for a proposed upgrade project on the wharf and airstrip on Taiping Island in the South China Sea. The CGA, which is responsible for safeguarding the Taiwan-controlled island in the disputed seas, said yesterday that it previously sent an inquiry to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA, 環保署), asking if it needs to conduct environmental impact assessments on the island before launching the project. In response, the EPA said in an official document this January that it was unnecessary for the CGA to do so, the CGA said in a released statement.
The CGA, however, needs to propose contingency measures to make sure that the ecology of the island and its surrounding environment will not be harmed because of these upgrades, the EPA said. The CGA’s statement came after lawmakers on Monday decided to freeze NT$200 million of the total NT$3.3 billion CGA budget on the grounds that the government has yet to launch an environmental impact evaluation on the project. The CGA yesterday said that the wharf expansion project is aimed at showcasing the Republic of China’s sovereignty claim in the region and to beef up the CGA’s rescue capability in the area. The NT$3.3 billion will be used to make improvements to accommodate larger vessels, including military transportation ships and research vessels, allowing vessels weighing less than 3,000 tons into the port. NT$58 million of the budget, on the other hand, will be spent on upgrading the airstrip to ensure safer landings and takeoffs. The island will remain off-limits to the general public after the wharf and air strip upgrades to avoid causing serious ecological impact on the island, the CGA said.