Sat, Mar 21, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Court hearings start on Kaohsiung gas explosions disaster

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Court hearings began yesterday for defendants charged over the Kaohsiung gas explosions on July 31 and Aug. 1 last year, with public officials responsible for the supervision and inspection of subsurface pipelines all pleading not guilty.

The proceedings took place at the Kaohsiung District Court yesterday morning, with the initial phase centered on three Kaohsiung City Government officials, who are among 12 people indicted over one of the worse disasters involving public utility infrastructure in the nation’s history.

Summoned to testify were Chao Chien-chiao (趙建喬), head of the city government’s Maintenance Office of Public Works Bureau, along with an engineer and a technician from the Maintenance Office, Chiu Ping-wen (邱炳文) and Yang Tsung-jen (楊宗仁).

The three city government officials, along with pipeline company LCY Chemical Corp (李長榮化工) chairman Lee Bowei (李謀偉), other LCY employees and staff of petrochemical transporter China General Terminal and Distribution Corp (華運倉儲), were indicted on offenses against public safety, professional negligence causing death and other charges.

It was found that the explosions that ripped up entire sections of road and wrecked buildings were mainly caused by leaks in a section of an LCY-owned underground pipeline carrying propene. The blasts killed 32 people and injured more than 300.

Under questioning, the three defendants, with the help of their lawyers, said that they had followed the terms of their engineering contracts and city bylaws when conducting tests for approval when the underground pipelines and culverts were laid in 1992, as well as for all safety inspections since that time.

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