Sat, Jun 23, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Firms responsible for 2014 gas explosions, court says

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Kaohsiung City Government Legal Affairs Bureau Director Evelyn Chen speaks to reporters in the city yesterday.

Photo: Wang Jung-hsiang, Taipei Times

The Kaohsiung District Court yesterday found that two companies who managed a network of pipelines were responsible for the 2014 Kaohsiung gas explosions, which left 32 people dead and 321 injured, and ordered them to pay about NT$240 million (US$7.92 million) in compensation to the victims.

The court determined that LCY Chemical Corp (李長榮化工) and China General Terminal & Distribution Corp (CGTD, 華運倉儲) were each carried 30 percent of the blame for the explosions, while the Kaohsiung City Government was 40 percent responsible.

The court found that the other defendant, CPC Corp, Taiwan (中油), was not liable.

The ruling can be appealed.

Although the Kaohsiung City Government was found to be 40 percent responsible for the disaster, it did not have to make a payment due to a provision in the law which imposes a two-year limit on litigation for financial compensation, the court said.

Victims in the case signed an agreement that authorized the city government to file for compensation against defendants LCY Chemical, CGTD and CPC, and consequently the victims did not file a lawsuit against the city government and as a result the two-year limitation had expired, the ruling said.

The series of underground explosions began in Kaohsiung’s Lingya (苓雅) and Cianjhen (前鎮) districts shortly before midnight on July 31, 2014, following reports of gas leaks earlier that night.

In the aftermath, the city government reached an agreement with 3,140 victims of the disaster to file a civil lawsuit to seek compensation from LCY Chemical, CGTD and CPC.

In its defense, the city government cited financial redress it had paid to those affected by the disaster, as well as funds for rebuilding, but the judges deemed those efforts were not “financial compensation,” but were “public welfare and relief work in nature.”

LCY Chemical spokesman Wei Cheng-cheng (魏正誠) said his company would consider filing an appeal “because we presented scientific evidence in court, but unfortunately the judges did not give it due consideration.”

The Kaohsiung City Government released a statement saying it would appeal the decision.

“We will continue to fight for the rights of the victims ... In the end, the court may find the city government liable and ask it to pay compensation,” it said.

In affiliated litigation, the court rejected a case filed by LCY Chemical demanding that CPC pay NT$700 million in compensation for its role in the gas explosions.

CPC had also filed a case seeking NT$94 million in compensation from LCY Chemical.

The court ruled in favor of CPC in that case and ordered LCY Chemical to pay NT$40 million.

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