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United Daily News: Concern over public land safety

United Daily News: Concern over public land safety

Three years after the high-speed railway system began operations, serious land subsidence has been discovered along sections of the elevated line in Yunlin County. The subsidence has already reached the upper limit of the system's design tolerance, and if the problem is not resolved, the line's safety could be compromised and service could even be suspended.
Land subsidence has always been a factor in the high-speed rail system's safety, and its Yunlin section has suffered the most from the sinking land because of long-term extraction of groundwater.
However, both the central and local governments have failed to come up with approaches to counter the problem.
The system is a major indicator of the safety of public infrastructure and national lands. Continued land subsidence will also damage nearby ports, expressways and cities.
The earth's surface should have been able to support the weight produced by human structures if large amounts of groundwater had not been extracted. Now that science has proven wrong the claim by Yunlin County officials that land subsidence was caused by the combined weight of high-speed railway system and nearby freeways, their reluctance to seal off the many illegally dug wells in the vicinity has exacerbated the problem.
The Yunlin County authorities' refusal to seal the wells in the name of protecting local farmers' interests is understandable, but the question is, what is more important: the interests of local garlic farmers or the key north-south high speed transportation line? If the subsidence was occurring at a uniform rate along the entire length of the high speed rail, it would not be a major problem. But because the high speed rail piers in Yunlin County are "settling" quickly at an uneven rate because of the subsidence, a major safety risk could eventually develop.
We must warn top officials in the central and local governments that land subsidence is already occurring in many parts of Taiwan, and that they will be held accountable if they fail to address the serious problem before it is too late. (April 3, 2010) (By Flor Wang)




Updated : 2021-06-16 09:22 GMT+08:00