Environmentalists yesterday protested against an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for an expansion project at a naphtha cracker complex that failed to include fine particles.
The EIA for the fourth expansion project at Formosa Plastics Corp’s sixth naphtha cracker complex in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮) did not list PM2.5 (fine particles less than 2.5 micrometers) as an item in the evaluation.
Before the impact assessment meeting, environmentalists gathered in front of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and called on committee members to reject a proposal to once again expand the plant.
The Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union said many accidents had occurred at the naphtha cracker complex in recent years, adding that several epidemiological investigations have shown that the occurrence of several serious diseases among local residents may have been caused by pollution from the plants.
“The developer should not use fake pollution reduction as an excuse for real expansion,” Yunlin County Environmental Protection Union chairman and former EIA committee member Chang Tsu-chien (張子見) said.
Although the developer claims the expansion project will not increase water usage and pollution, this was only a bargaining tool to ensure the approval of the project, Chang said.
The total air pollutant emission levels originally approved by the EIA had already been proven to cause serious health threats, even when the plants’ emission amount have not reached the regulated maximum level, Chang said.
“The reason for its pollution reduction is because the approved total emission level was unreasonably high,” he said, adding that it should not be used as a bargaining chip, and the total emission level should even be re-evaluated and amended to a level that is safe and endurable by local residents.
The Changhua Medical Alliance said that it was irresponsible to not take the health of local residents into consideration, by leaving out the evaluation on PM2.5 levels in the expansion project, when the volatile organic compounds and PM2.5 emissions from the plants may be connected to the occurrence of cancer in people living nearby.
The environmental groups urged the EPA to re-evaluate and reduce the total allowable air pollutants emission level and take PM2.5 levels into evaluation before approving the expansion project.
However, an analysis report on the difference in the environmental impact for the expansion project was conditionally approved at the EIA meeting yesterday afternoon.
The EPA said it has strongly requested that the developer reduce pollution emissions before increasing production output. The reduction level must be higher than the new plant’s emission level and reported to the EIA committee for approval before the new plant starts operations, the agency said.