The planned renovation and expansion of Chinese Petroleum Corp’s (CPC) third naphtha cracker should not be allowed to go into a test run before any negative health risks it poses to nearby residents are carefully evaluated, residents from Greater Kaohsiung’s Linyuan District (林園) and a civic environmental group said yesterday.
Wearing anti-bacterial face masks that read: “Refuse carcinogens” and holding signs that read: “Anger,” the protesters expressed concerns at a demonstration in Taipei that the test run would increase air pollution and threaten nearby residents’ health.
Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan (CET) deputy executive director Wang Min-ling (王敏玲) said the renovation and expansion project — which would increase the plant’s annual production capacity of ethylene from 230,000 tonnes to 800,000 tonnes — acquired conditional approval after undergoing an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in late 2008, but the EIA’s conclusion also demanded the Industrial Development Bureau conduct health risk assessments of the naphtha cracker at the Linyuan Industrial Park.
“The assessment already found substances including epoxyethane, acrylonitrile, benzene, butadiene and other carcinogens in the air,” she said, adding that the substances would threaten the health of tens of thousands of residents in the district, so the Environmental Protection Bureau should not allow a test run before the carcinogenic risks are clarified.
“Many companies are gradually expanding their plants, so if the local government does not set an upper limit to the area’s total air pollution level, the expansions in Linyuan may continue,” Linyuan District Anti Public Nuisance Homeland Protection Association board member Huang Te-huang (黃德煌) said.
Linyuan District’s Wufu Borough (五福) Warden Huang Yang-wen (黃揚文) said many residents in the borough live very close to the petrochemical industrial park and often have to endure black smoke and noise pollution from the plants there.
The residents fear the expansion project will cause an increase in cancer, he added.