The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday said it had no legal grounds to request that Formosa Plastics Group pay health and welfare surcharges for its naphtha cracker plant in Mailiao Township (麥寮), Yunlin County, adding that the group was still in talks with the county government over how it should -compensate residents for the pollution from the plant.
The EPA in October held a comprehensive review on the impact that the plant has had over the past decade. While experts from various fields were invited to express their thoughts on the matter, representatives from the Yunlin County Government proposed that Formosa appropriate between 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent of its after-tax revenue from the plant to establish the Yunlin Medical Development Fund, with each resident of Yunlin County receiving a health and welfare bonus of NT$10,000.
Yeh Jiunn-horng (葉俊宏), director-general of the EPA’s planning department, said the administration was compiling a report on the results of the review.
However, he said the proposal for compensation was not included in the final chapter because it -remained controversial and it was added to the appendix.
“We wanted to truthfully present the opinions expressed during the review,” Yeh said.
Aside from a health and welfare surcharge, the county government representatives suggested that Formosa cover the costs of student lunches at Yunlin’s primary and junior high schools, as well as the commuting charges for junior high school students. They said that Formosa should also offer subsidies to married couples with children.
Formosa should provide schools near the plant with the means to cope with chemical-related hazards, they said, adding that it should also provide internships and jobs to local residents.
Yeh said the Taiwan Environmental Information Center had been asked to compile the report, which still needs more data from other government agencies.
Formosa Plastics said it would do everything it could and that it was reasonable to compensate residents living near the complex, but had no comment on the health tax.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KEVIN CHEN