Minister hospitalized after heart condition flares at legislature

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Apr 01, 2016 - Page 1

Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Wei Kuo-yen (魏國彥), who on Wednesday tendered his resignation over an oil spill incident, was hospitalized yesterday after suffering from a heart condition during a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Shortly after a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee began, Wei started experiencing chest tightness and the condition persisted after he took medication, so he went to the Legislative Yuan’s infirmary, National Taiwan University Hospital said.

Wei showed abnormal electrocardiogram readings and was diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome and suspected acute myocardial infarction, and was immediately transported to the hospital.

The hospital said that Wei had a history of heart disease and was conscious upon arriving at the hospital, adding that he was taken to the intensive care unit for suspected acute coronary syndrome.

A cardiac catheterization was performed in the afternoon, and it would take a few days for Wei to recover, the EPA said.

According to EPA staff, Wei has been working overtime lately because of two ships running aground in Penghu County and New Taipei City’s Shimen District (石門), which resulted in an oil spill and sparked criticism of the EPA’s handling of the incidents.

Wei on Wednesday tendered his resignation after a legislative hearing, in which Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) criticized the EPA’s management of the grounded container ship off Shimen, as the oil leaking from the vessel polluted the coastline.

Wei said he was resigning to take responsibility for the pollution, rather than acting on impulse, but added that he would continue to attend legislative sessions until the premier accepts his resignation.

“As the legislature has lost confidence in the EPA’s capabilities, I have no reason to stay at the position; I am stepping down to shoulder political responsibility,” he said.

Premier Simon Chang (張善政) yesterday visited Wei at the hospital, saying that he would not accept Wei’s resignation since the minister has duly performed his duty over the grounding incidents.

Meanwhile, the EPA’s Department of Water Quality director Yeh Chun-hung (葉俊宏) said that crews have removed two-thirds of the diesel and crude oil on the container ship, and the pumping operation is expected to be finished today at the earliest.

Lubricating oils remaining on the ship would be drained later, while there is no sign that hazardous chemicals stored in nine containers on the ship would leak, Yeh said.

The Minister of Transportation and Communications said it requested the ship owner to remove all 385 containers from the ship before the flood season.