Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) will weigh in on a disagreement between the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) regarding a decision that could lead to Formosa Petrochemical Corp’s (台塑石化) withdrawal from an investment project.
Executive Yuan spokesperson Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉) yesterday said that Chen was aware of the impact the EPA’s decision will have on the investment climate and will look carefully into the case.
Members of the EPA’s environmental impact assessment committee on Thursday voted 9 to 6 to reject the appeal filed by the corporation against an earlier decision it made on Aug. 3 that volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions generated from flares, water cooling tanks, and while painting, cleaning and performing annual maintenance on water storage tanks, are sources of pollutants subject to the VOC limit.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Friday quoted Formosa Petrochemical chairman Chen Bao-lang (陳寶郎) as saying that the decision could cause the company to abandon the project to build a hydrogenated styrenic block copolymer (HSBC) plant, which would cost NT$6.2 billion (US$211.46 million) and be jointly funded by the US-based Kraton Polymers.
Chen Bao-lang was quoted as saying that he regretted the decision, but would respect it.
The project is known as the fourth-phase expansion of Formosa Plastics’naphtha cracker in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮), where many are worried about air quality being worsened by the petrochemical plant and the impact it has on residents’ health.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) issued a press release on Friday saying that he was extremely worried about the consequences the EPA’s policy might have and urged the agency and members of environmental impact assessment committee to seriously consider how their decision would affect investors’ willingness to invest in Taiwan.
In response to Shih’s remarks, EPA Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) suggested that the EPA be stripped of its veto power over investment projects and that environmental impact assessments of construction projects be conducted by any regulatory agency whichever grants development permits, in this case the MOEA.
Hu yesterday said the Cabinet will have interagency meeting to discuss the issue when necessary.