Hundreds of people gathered outside a steel plant in Greater Tainan yesterday, calling for the relocation of a newly constructed galvanizing factory. Holding placards and fresh vegetables and chanting slogans, the protesters asked to speak with the managers of Quintain Steel Co, saying the plant should be moved from the agricultural Guantian District (官田) to an industrial area.
The demonstrators had marched along the Provincial Highway No. 1 earlier in the day to the plant to express concern over the environmental damage that they said could be caused by the galvanizing plant. The plant is scheduled to begin operations in June next year, producing 60,000 tonnes of galvanized iron wire annually.
One of the protest leaders, Chou Peng-chieh (周朋杰), said the plant was built right next to a residential area in an agricultural district, which could adversely affect living conditions and pollute the -agricultural fields and fish ponds in the area. The plant should be moved to an industrial district, Chou said.
The plant managers eventually met with the protesters to discuss the issue, but residents said they were not satisfied with the explanations they were given. The residents will continue to protest until their demands are met, Chou said, adding that the company did not consult with the residents before building the plant.
The residents said they would take their protests to the Greater Tainan Government’s Environmental Protection Bureau to make sure their voices are heard.
Pan Hsi-hsien (潘希賢), managing director of Quintain Steel Co, said the construction project was approved by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in 2002.
However, the company did not start construction until recently because it was waiting for the investment climate in Taiwan to improve, he said. The company invested about NT$250 million (US$8.7 million) for the treatment of wastewater and emissions from the plant, which accounted for half of the construction costs, he said. The public can be assured that the factory will be operated in accordance with EPA standards, he said.
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