Thu, Aug 19, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Residents block access to FPG plant for a second day

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Police form a human wall to facilitate the flow of traffic as residents from Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (unseen) block an access road to Formosa Plastic Group’s petrochemical complex in the township yesterday morning.

PHOTO: CNA

Local residents continued their blockade of an access road to Formosa Plastic Group’s (FPG) petrochemical complex in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮) yesterday morning, disrupting traffic, but they later dispersed after venting their anger.

Led by a resident self-help association, the protesters used their bodies and cars to block traffic, causing traffic jams stretching about 3km.

On Tuesday, angry residents blocked all three major roads leading to the complex, demanding that the conglomerate pay residents NT$1.8 billion (US$53 million) for polluting the area and harming their health. They also wanted Formosa Plastics to promise to relocate the complex later this decade.

The company said it is only willing to pay up to NT$500 million.

Yesterday, the association mobilized local residents to cut off one of the three main roads.

With the blockade taking place during working hours, many workers at the complex complained that the protesters were infringing on their right to work.

Formosa Plastics’ management called on the protesters to respect its employees’ right to work, and began adopting flexible work schedules.

However, the disruption did not affect the company’s production line or supply chain, with only 30 of the 400 oil tankers that pass through the complex daily being obstructed, company executives said.

In the chaos, police used patrol vehicles to clear a lane for traffic.

At the same time, some protesters gathered on another road leading to the front gate of the complex, prompting police officers to form a human wall to prevent workers at the complex from being disturbed.

The protesters dispersed at around 8:20am, but threatened to initiate another blockade of the three main access roads during work hours today.

Formosa Plastics called for rational and peaceful communications and stressed that the company would go no higher than the NT$500 million in compensation it has offered, which represented an increase from the NT$450 million it originally proposed.

Residents have pressed Formosa Plastics for compensation after a major fire at one of the complex’s oil refining plants broke out on July 25 and contaminated neighboring farms and fish farms.

It was the second fire at the complex in three weeks.

Residents of Mailiao and other nearby villages accused the plant of having poor safety precautions and of neglecting the potential health risks to local residents.

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