EPA tells Formosa to clarify data on expansion proposal

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Jan 07, 2014 - Page 4

A proposal to expand the Formosa Group’s naphtha cracker in Yunlin County’s Mailiao (麥寮) was rejected at an ad hoc Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) specialist meeting yesterday because the number of storage tanks listed in the plan was unverified.

The group was told to clarify the number within a month and resubmit the plan.

Before the meeting at the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in Taipei began, environmentalists rallied in front of the building to call for the plant to cease operations over what they said were falsified reports on the number of storage tanks it has and the air pollution it causes.

According to Taiwan Water Conservation Alliance spokesperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華), the EPA said it had discovered that the plant had more than 3,000 storage tanks while using unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor the environment. The Yulin County Government later confirmed that having hundreds of tanks at such a facility is illegal.

However, the company’s EIA report said that there were only 1,875 tanks at the cracker as of May last year, with the figure reduced to 1,126 in the report it submitted in October, Chen added.

Since it has been alleged that Formosa Group presented fake data in its environmental reports, the government and EIA committee members should confirm the number of storage tanks before reviewing the expansion proposal, Chen said, adding that the firm’s owners should be punished if found to have provided misleading information.

Company representatives said the lower number of storage tanks in the October report resulted from the exclusion of wastewater or rainwater storage facilities.

They added that the figure derived from the EPA’s reconnaissance was erroneous because it had likely counted all round structures as storage tanks, which was inaccurate as some of them are underground.

That prompted Chen to ask if the actual number may be even higher if some are underground.