Fri, Jun 25, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Group calls for purchases to scupper refineries plan

WETLANDS IN PERIL Local poet Wu Sheng said that proposed oil refineries in Changhua County would destroy a centuries-old farming and fishing culture

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Environmentalists yesterday asked the public to save coastal wetlands in Changhua County by purchasing land to prevent it from being sold to a petrochemical company to build oil refineries.

The Kuo-kuang Petrochemical Technology Corp (KPTC), a subsidiary of CPC Taiwan Corp, plans to build refineries on coastal wetland in Dacheng Township (大城), Changhua County, near the mouth of Jhuoshuei River (濁水溪).

The plan has sparked controversy, with many residents — especially oyster farmers — worried that a petrochemical plant would bring pollution and destroy the oyster farming industry.

Environmentalists worry that the planned refineries would be disastrous for the diverse wetland ecology — notably critically endangered pink dolphins.

Opponents of the petrochemical plant want to block the plan by purchasing the most sensitive 200 hectares of the 4,000 hectares that the KPTC would like to buy.

“According to the National Property Administration, the current value of the land in the area is only NT$100 [US$3] per square meter, so why don’t we put our money together to purchase 200 hectares of the most sensitive land?” Taiwan Environmental Protection Union Changhua Division director Tsai Chia-yang (蔡嘉陽) said.

Tsai said they are calling on the public to purchase a share of the land for NT$119 each.

Since the group started the campaign on April 11, more than 22,000 people have written letters of intent to express their willingness to purchase more than 850,000 of land.

“We will file an application for charitable trust by the end of the month,” Tsai told a press conference yesterday. “I’m not sure if it will be approved, but if it is turned down, it will be turning down the will of tens of thousands of people.”

Changhua-based poet Wu Sheng (吳晟) accused the government and KPTC of “covering up their hearts” when making the decision to set up oil refineries on the wetlands.

“It’s not just about saving the endangered pink dolphins, [refineries] will also destroy a farming and fishing culture passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years,” Wu said.

“Big corporations and government keep tricking us with a bunch of numbers — they tell us about increases in GDP, employment and economic prosperity the oil refineries would bring — but they never tell us what we would lose,” he said. “And let me tell you, what we would lose would be much more than what we gain, so we don’t want this kind of GDP growth.”

Diane Wilson, author of the book An Unreasonable Woman, who started a campaign against Formosa Plastics Oil refineries along her native gulf coast in Texas, also shared her personal experience of the environmental catastrophe oil refineries can bring, and said she would stand in solidarity with Taiwanese who are against the planned KTPC refineries in Changhua.

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