Groups ask naphtha cracker to leave water for farmers

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 - Page 3

Civic environmental groups yesterday staged a protest at the Environmental Protection Administration in Taipei to call for Formosa Plastics Corp’s naphtha cracker in Mailiao Township (麥寮), Yunlin County, to arrange its own water supply instead of using water meant for irrigating farms during the dry season.

An ad hoc environmental impact assessment (EIA) meeting was held five years ago to review the possible environmental impact caused by the cracker’s proposed plan to meet its water usage needs. The plan entailed collecting used water from the end of an irrigation canal derived from the Sinhuwei River (新虎尾溪).

The Taiwan Water Conservation Alliance said that an EIA committee that reviewed the cracker’s 4.3-phase expansion project in 2007 had asked the plant to come up with a way to be self-sufficient in its water supply so as not to deprive the surrounding farms of too much water.

The solutions proposed by Formosa Plastics were reviewed by the agency two years ago, but the plant is still having difficulties meeting its water needs, said Wu Li-huei (吳麗慧) of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union’s Changhua Office.

Wu urged the company on behalf of the union to invest in technologies such as seawater desalination to supply the cracker with the water it needs and leave the fresh water to be used by locals and farmers.

Yunlin County Environmental Protection Union chairman Chang Tsu-chien (張子見) said that during the dry season — which typically lasts from February to May — between 40 percent and 90 percent of the water used by the cracker is meant to be used for irrigation.

Using groundwater in the dry season causes land subsidence, so the government should immediately force the plant to implement a new water supply plan, Chang said.

Changhua Medical Alliance for Public Affairs consultant Yang Joe-ming (楊澤民) said that forcing the plant to acquire its own water supply is the only way that it will invest in state-of-the-art environmental engineering technology and leave the fresh water available for farming purposes.