The government has sought measures to protect endangered dolphins before CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC,
Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co (國光石化科技), a venture led by state-run oil refiner CPC, and Formosa Plastics Group should study Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in their environmental assessments for the proposed projects, Edward Huang (黃光輝), director-general of the Environmental Protection Administration's planning department, said yesterday.
The projects have already been delayed by concerns that they may increase emissions of greenhouse gases. Formosa Plastics Group said in 2005 it plans to spend NT$135 billion (US$4.2 billion) to build a steel mill in Yunlin County, aiming to start output this year. CPC originally planned to begin work in 2004 on a chemical project in the same county.
"If the dolphins are found near the sites, the companies will have to come up with measures to ensure these animals won't be disturbed," Huang said. "Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are endangered and it's an international practise to project them."
The dolphins were discovered near the west coast in 2002, and the population there is estimated at fewer than 100, the Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group, a newly founded organization aimed at protecting the mammals, said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We don't think Kuokuang will affect the habitat of the dolphins," Kuokuang Petrochemical president Roy Chiu (邱吉雄) said yesterday. "We would like to know what we can do, and we know very little."
A one-year study commissioned by Kuokuang did not spot any of the dolphins near the proposed site, he said. The cost for the chemical project will probably exceed NT$500 billion, higher than the NT$401 billion previously estimated, Chiu said.
The plan will include a 300,000-barrels-a-day crude oil refinery and an ethylene plant with annual capacity of 1.2 million tonnes. CPC and partners founded Kuokuang in 2006 to carry out the project.
Formosa Plastics Group's proposed steel mill will have capacity of 7.5 million metric tonnes a year, Lee Chih-tsuen (
Formosa Plastics, based in Taipei, is the nation's biggest diversified industrial company.
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