Taiwan's economic miracle has been paralleled by an ecological nightmare. Taiwan has a plethora of environmental problems and they don't seem to be getting any better. The most contentious issues are the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant and the disposal of nuclear waste. Other major problems are waste disposal, incinerators, all kinds of pollution and illegal dumping of hazardous waste. Efforts by the EPA and the government to address Taiwan's environmental problems are piecemeal and limited in their scope.
Taiwan has the highest density of cars and factories in the world and is also one of the world's most densely populated countries. The inaccessability of the central mountain areas and the east coast have saved them from the industrial development that has devastated other parts of the island. Although these areas suffer from other problems such as poorly planned infrastructure and tourist development and land clearing for betel nut plantations.
Nuclear power continues to be a major issue in Taiwan. Construction of the fourth nuclear power plant has continued despite public protests. The government has failed to implement any significant policies for energy conservation or the generation of renewable energy. This means Taiwan is stuck with the dangers of nuclear power for the forseeable future. The people of Orchid Island continue to suffer the effects of this policy as their island is used as a dumping site for nuclear waste.
A recent report showed that Taiwan ranked at the bottom of 146 countries on an Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI). North Korea was the only nation ranked lower (Taipei Times 20-2-05).