Sat, Mar 11, 2017 - Page 1 News List

EPA orders reversal of Formosa ruling

STILL SUSPENDED:Formosa Chemicals does not plan to resume operations at its Changhua plant until its operating license is renewed to avoid potential legal pitfalls

By Kuo Chia-erh and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp vice chairman Hong Fu-yuan speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Hui-wen, Taipei Times

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday ordered the Changhua County Government to retract its decision to revoke an operating license for Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp’s (FCFC, 台灣化學纖維) Changhua plant, saying the county should find other laws to back its decision.

The company’s Changhua plant in October last year filed an application to continue operations of three boiler units, but was turned down by the county government on the grounds that the application had exceeded application dates. The company filed a petition with the EPA, which was debated yesterday by the administration’s appeals committee.

EPA Deputy Minister Thomas Chan (詹順貴) said the committee concluded that the administration must order the county to cancel its revocation, while rejecting the company’s appeal for the EPA to recognize the license’s validity.

EPA officials said the plant may resume operations, as the decision to revoke the county’s ruling meant that the plant was still in the process of applying for an extension, which means the existing license is still valid.

Formosa Chemicals said it has no plans to reopen the 51-year-old plant, despite the license’s validity, and would seek compensation from the county for financial losses.

“We still need to discuss more details with lawyers to make sure that Formosa Chemicals will not breach laws,” company vice chairman Hong Fu-yuan (洪福源) told a press conference in Taipei. “The actual losses at the plant are still being assessed, but the figure will be astronomical, considering maintenance and labor costs.”

The shutdown from October last year through January caused losses of nearly NT$3.2 billion (US$103.1 million), the company said at an earnings conference last month.

Asked about the issue of compliance with emission standards, Hong said that the company would meet the county’s requirements if the renewal is approved.

The county government last year attributed the rejection to the company’s failure to adhere to a coal standard it had promised to meet, saying at the time that the company should apply for a new permit instead of a renewal.

A company official, who declined to be named, said the company will not take any substantial steps ahead of the county’s decision on the renewal of its existing permits.

“The county government should decide to accept or reject our permit renewal applications in two months after the EPA’s decision,” he said.

The legal battle might be prolonged if the county government were to insist on rejecting the renewal, the official said.

Formosa Chemicals is the nation’s largest aromatic hydrocarbon supplier, with an annual capacity of more than 1.3 million tonnes of polystyrene.

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