Tue, Jul 26, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Kaohsiung free-trade zone expansion plans protested

HEALTH HAZARD:Data show that teenagers living near the zone have higher risks of respiratory diseases than teenagers living in other parts of Kaohsiung

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Dozens of residents of Kaohsiung’s Siaogang District (小港) and environmental advocates yesterday rallied in front of the Executive Yuan and Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) buildings in Taipei to protest against plans to expand the city’s free-trade zone, which they said would increase pollution in the area.

The protesters first gathered in front of the Executive Yuan building, urging the government to stop the Nansing Free-Trade Zone project amid increasing pollution. The crowd later staged another protest in front of the EPA offices ahead of a meeting to decide the scope of the Nansing project’s environmental impact assessment.

The project plans to build logistics facilities, warehouses, parking space for container trucks and a park on a 43-hectare plot of reclaimed land adjacent to the Port of Kaohsiung.

Residents of Siaogang District’s Dalinpu (大林蒲) and Fongbitou (鳳鼻頭) areas oppose the project, which they said would block the southwest wind in summer — the only thing that can dissipate pollutants in the area.

According to data collected by the EPA, levels of benzene, ethylbenzene and styrene in Siaogang in the past five years were two to three times higher than those in Yunlin County’s Taisi Township (台西), home of the nation’s largest naphtha cracker complex, Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union spokeswoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said.

“The Yunlin and Changhua county governments have conducted health risk assessments for residents living near the cracker, but the Kaohsiung City Government has done nothing to track the health of Dalinpu and Fongbitou residents,” who are exposed to more severe pollution, Chen said.

Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau data show that teenagers living in Siaogang have higher risks of respiratory diseases than teenagers living in other parts of the city, Fight for Health Women’s Group Kaohsiung Chapter director Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀菊) said.

There are more than 10 schools and more than 10,000 students within 3km of the coastal region, which is surrounded by large industrial operations — state-run oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan, China Steel Corp, Taiwan Power Co, shipbuilder CSBC Corp and incinerators, Hung said.

“I do not understand why the government wants to deprive us of a clean beach and build more factories in the area. Local residents have suffered from the pollution for more than 40 years. We have been abandoned by the government to a place surrounded by 544 factories,” Fongsing Borough (鳳興) Warden Hung Fu-hsien (洪富賢) said.

“The government has been double-dealing with residents, because while it has said it is inclined to relocate residents, it continues to review the Nansing project and approve more developments in the area,” local resident Chien Chih-chiang (簡志強) said.

During the scoping meeting of the Nansing project, residents and environmentalists raised questions over alleged procedural flaws in the developer’s acquisition of the proposed development site, saying a construction completion certificate was given when the land reclamation work was still ongoing.

The groups also questioned whether the reclaimed land, which was made up of trash, slag and construction debris, could support buildings or cause environmental problems.

The Kaohsiung City Government did not send any representatives to the meeting.

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