Groups slam move of students back to Syucuo school

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Sep 13, 2017 - Page 3

Students at Ciaotou Elementary School in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮) should not have returned to classes at the Syucuo (許厝) satellite school, which is only 900m from the sixth naphtha cracker, environmental groups said yesterday.

The urine tests of students at the school were found to contain higher levels of thiodiglycolic acid (TdGA) than those of students based farther from the plant, studies published in 2014 by National Health Research Institutes found.

TdGA, a carcinogen, is an indicator of exposure to vinyl chloride monomer.

Syucuo students in 2014 were relocated to Ciaotou, which is farther from the plant.

However, a study last year by National Cheng Kung University professor Lee Chun-chang (李俊璋) found the Ciaotou students’ urine contained higher levels of TdGA residue than that of Syucuo students.

Conflicting opinions about the source of the pollutant has meant that students have been moved three times between Syucuo and Ciaotou in the past three years.

They were back at Syucuo for the start of the new fall semester on Aug. 30.

Yesterday, about eight environmental campaigners gathered in front of the Yunlin County Government building to call on authorities to act.

“The students were moved back to Syucuo because authorities adopted Lee’s studies commissioned by the Health Promotion Administration,” Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union director Jennifer Nien (粘麗玉) said.

“However, Lee has also been commissioned by Formosa Petrochemical Corp to conduct many environmental studies about the naphtha cracker,” she said.

The county government failed to consider Lee’s conflict of interest before relocating the students, she said.

National Yunlin University of Science and Technology professor Lin Chun-chiang (林春強) said the county government should not have allowed the students to return to Syucuo without the environmental risks being clarified.

There are 56 students at Syucuo, including eight new students, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union member Wu Li-hui (吳麗慧) said, adding that Yunlin County Commissioner Lee Chin-yung’s (李進勇) had broken a promise to relocate them to a safer site.

Yunlin County Education Department Director Liang En-chia (梁恩嘉) said that construction of new classrooms at Ciaotou school is expected to be completed by October 2019 when it would be able to accommodate the students at Syucuo.

Additional reporting by CNA