Sun, Nov 14, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Protesters urge reverse in petrochemical policy

DIRTY FARMS:A farmer from Yunlin County said the sixth naphtha cracker complex made locals so afraid that they wouldn’t go outside without a face mask

Staff Writer, with CNA

Protesters wave banners reading “toxic” and “endangering lives” during a rally against the expansion of petrochemical companies in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: Patrick Lin, AFP

Sporadic rain did not dampen the determination of protesters who rallied in Taipei City yesterday to demand that the government halt expansion of the petrochemical industry.

Claiming to have mobilized nearly 10,000 people from more than 200 groups nationwide, the organizers marched to Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office.

The rally, targeting in particular Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co’s controversial plan to build an eighth naphtha cracker in Changhua County, demanded that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) implement a “petrochemical policy reversal.”

“We can’t ask mother nature to make changes. It is our mindset that needs to change,” said Green Party Convener Pan Han-sheng (潘翰聲), one of the organizers.

As the Kuokuang Petrochemical Park project might go through a preliminary environmental impact assessment (EIA) as early as next month, protesters from central Taiwan expressed concern that the giant complex would threaten the health and livelihoods of local residents.

Hsu Yung-mao, a farmer from Yunlin County, also complained about the existing sixth naphtha cracker in his county, saying that “we are afraid to go out without wearing a mask.”

Hsu, who led 35 people from the county’s Taisi Township (台西) at the rally, said his vegetables have been late to mature, adding that oyster-growers have also suffered a loss of income because the township’s produce has been contaminated by the plant.

His words were echoed by people who do not live in the affected areas.

Tony Durben and his family from Taipei County said they were worried about food safety and quality of life for the next generation.

In response to the protesters, Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) said the current EIA procedure is sufficient for experts to make the best decisions.

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