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Taiwan president to visit algal reef at center of gas terminal referendum

Government has moved project out of sea, cut down its size by 90%

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President Tsai Ing-wen plans to visit the contested Datan LNG terminal project Thursday. (CNA, CPC photo) 

President Tsai Ing-wen plans to visit the contested Datan LNG terminal project Thursday. (CNA, CPC photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will visit the algae reef in Taoyuan City at the heart of the Dec. 18 referendum about the siting of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the area, reports said Wednesday (Nov. 24).

The project initially met with sharp opposition from environmentalists, who launched a petition campaign for a referendum that has now been scheduled for Dec. 18, along with votes on three completely different topics.

While visiting the Datan algae reef Thursday morning (Nov. 25), President Tsai will emphasize how the government changed the original plan by moving the terminal 455 meters further out to sea in order to avoid damaging the environment, the Liberty Times reported.

The project will be built 1.2 kilometers from the coastline and occupy only 10% of the space originally reserved for the terminal, Tsai said. The government has argued that not going ahead with the revised version of the project will endanger Taiwan’s drive to strengthen its energy supply and cut its carbon emissions, as coal-burning power stations will have to make up for the lack of gas.

Nevertheless, while Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has asked voters to reject the referendum question calling for a halt to the Datan terminal, the campaigners and the opposition Kuomintang were still campaigning for a yes vote to stop the project.