Activists urge probe of Chang Chun’s bid to expand factories

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jan 24, 2014 - Page 3

Activists yesterday asked prosecutors to probe whether the Chang Chun Group forged documents pertaining to its plan to expand its factories in Yunlin’s Mailiao Township (麥寮), while urging that the county government be forced to present the permits it granted to the group for the emission of volatile organic compounds to verify that all was in accordance with environmental regulations.

The activists made the demands while they protested in front of the main entrance of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in Taipei as the environmental impact assessment (EIA) committee was scheduled to review expansion projects submitted by Chang Chun and Dairen Chemical Corp, two chemical factories in the industrial zone. Dairen is affiliated with Chang Chun.

Based on the plan submitted by Chang Chun, its factories in Mailiao will be expanded so they can produce 48,000 tonnes of methanol and 35,000 tonnes of polyoxymethylene annually.

The EIA committee yesterday decided to review the company’s submissions again at a later time, after the firm provided the supplementary information requested by committee members.

However, activists said that the committee should also examine the volatile organic compounds emission permits granted to chemical factories in the zone.

Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union spokesperson Chen Jia-hua (陳椒華) said methanol is a Category One carcinogen and research conducted by National Taiwan University professor Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) has shown that the residents of Mailiao and the nearby Taishi Township (台西) have a higher possibility of contracting cancer than people who reside elsewhere in the country.

Factories producing methanol and polyoxymethylene should not be allowed to expand because that will only worsen the pollution in Mailiao, she said.

It has been proven that Chang Chun Group’s storage tank emits more than 3 tonnes of volatile organic compounds per year, but the company reported zero emissions in its application, she said.

That was proof that the company had forged documents and prosecutors should investigate the matter, Chen said.

Wu Li-huei (吳麗慧), a member of the Changhwa Environmental Protection Union’s board, said the EPA’s Environmental Inspection Bureau found that Chang Chun had illegally installed 10 emission pipelines in August 2012, but that the Yunlin County Government still granted the group operational permits the following October.

“We suspected that the county government is treating the Chang Chun favorably and we may consider taking legal action against the county government if it fails to present all the permits it has granted to these chemical factories,” Wu said.