Wed, Nov 05, 2003 - Page 3 News List

German group sued after bomb-disposal explosion

DAMAGES The Combined Logistics Command is demanding NT$7.64 million compensation, blaming the accident on the company's allegedly faulty design

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Combined Logistics Command (CLC) is suing a German company after an explosion two years ago at a bomb disposal facility which had been built by the company.

The CLC demands NT$7.64 million compensation from the Buck company, the contractor for the Kaohsiung-based facility to handle the disposal of bombs. According to the CLC, faulty design by the German company led to the explosion of a rotary furnace used in the disposal process.

"Although the rotary furnace has been repaired, the accident has caused a considerable loss to the CLC. Investigations show that the explosion resulted from a faulty design by the Buck company," said Major-General Wang Yun-shen, a department chief of the CLC.

"We filed a lawsuit on Dec. 17, 2002 in the Kaohsiung District Court," Wang said.

He made the remarks yesterday at a regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) as he briefed the press on the CLC's handling of the accident.

The accident occurred on May 11, 2001, at the CLC's Kaohsiung-based bomb disposal unit, which was built by the Buck company at a cost of NT$681 million in 2000. The unit was the first of its kind in the military and was promoted by National Defense Minister Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明), who was the army's commander-in-chief at the time.

The CLC did not disclose whether the explosion of the rotary furnace had caused any casualties. The accident was only recently made public. A Chinese-language newspaper published a report last week in which a number of irregularities in connection with the explosion were alleged.

The CLC claims that staff working at the bomb disposal unit strictly followed the technical manual provided by the Buck company while operating the rotary furnace.

Further investigations by the CLC showed that the German company had apparently made some mistakes in the design of the rotary furnace, which it said probably caused the explosion.

It had been Tang's idea to explain the case to the media at yesterday's conference, a CLC official said yesterday.

"Tang is very concerned about the case, since he had contributed to the establishment of the bomb disposal unit," he said.

The CLC denied that there were any irregularities connected to the explosion, as the newspaper had reported.

But in a press release provided by the CLC yesterday, the Ministry of Audit was quoted as saying that the CLC had made a lot of mistakes in the case.

The errors were identified as "making incorrect budget plans," "accepting contract terms in disfavor of itself," "signing the contract [with the German company] prematurely," and "wasting the government's money by double investment on the project."

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