Several environmentalists yesterday again protested outside the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in Taipei, calling for it to reject a proposal to expand the nation’s sixth naphtha cracker in Mailiao Township (麥寮), Yunlin County.
The activists say the Formosa Petrochemical Corp plant has already violated the permitted volatile organic compounds (VOC) emission limit of 4,302 tonnes per year.
Taiwan Water Conservation Alliance spokesperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said that according to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) made in 2004, the plant was told it could emit no more than 4,302 tonnes of VOCs emission each year.
“However, a document from the Yunlin County Government claims that the plant last year emitted 4,341 tonnes of the compounds, beyond the allowed amount,” she said.
Wu Li-hui (吳麗慧), a member of the alliance, said that although the administration suspects the document may be false, the county’s prosecutors’ office has not yet filed any charges, meaning that the document should be considered valid for now. Given this, the environmental agency should not accept any expansion proposals from the plant at its EIA meetings until the matter is cleared up, Wu said.
Chen said the alliance suspects that the plant’s total VOC emissions have been significantly underestimated, as several emission sources that should have been factored in are not listed in previous records.
Casting more doubt on the numbers, was data from the nation’s third naphtha cracker — owned by CPC Corp, Taiwan — Yunlin County Environmental Protection Union chairman Chang Tsu-chien (張子見) said.
The third plant has a more advanced manufacturing process that enables it to produce about half the amount of VOCs that the sixth cracker does, despite having one-sixth of the production capacity, which suggests the Yunlin County Government’s formula for calculating emissions is flawed, he said.
After listening to the activists’ concerns, the convener of the EIA specialists meeting yesterday said that since determing whether the Formosa Group’s plant’s VOCs emissions surpassed the allowed limit needs further clarifition, the review meeting will continue.
However, the controversy over the monitoring data will be included on the agenda at future meetings and will be thoroughly discussed before the case reaches the EIA general assembly, the convener said.