Environmental protection groups yesterday demonstrated in front of the Yunlin County Government, calling on Yunlin County Commissioner Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) not to grant new permits for power plants in the nation’s sixth naphtha cracker complex to continue burning petroleum coke and coal.
They said a moratorium on new permits would encourage the county council to pass a draft law banning such fuels.
The county government earlier this month published a draft bylaw that stipulates that, to protect public health, all facilities in the county are to cease burning petroleum coke one year after the bylaw takes effect, and that coal is to be banned after the third year.
During the campaign for last year’s nine-in-one local elections, Lee vowed to ban the use of the two materials if he won.
The permits for three coal-fired power plants in Formosa Petrochemical Corp’s complex will expire in June. Formosa Petrochemical is a subsidiary of Formosa Plastics Group (FPG).
Yunlin-based environmentalist Wu Sung-lin (吳松霖) said that if Lee agrees to renew the permits, it would defeat the purpose of the draft bylaw and make it more difficult to pass it.
Renewing the permits would open up a back door for FPG to influence county councilors into blocking the bylaw, Wu said.
Recently published research by Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權), a professor of occupational medicine and industrial hygiene at National Taiwan University, conducted at the behest of the Yunlin County Government, found excessive levels of heavy metals and metabolites from exposure to carcinogens in urine samples of residents living close to the naphtha cracker complex, which means they could have a higher chance of developing cancer.
The study also tied elevated levels of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, benzene, propylene and ethylene in the air to emissions from the cracker.
Citing Article 28 of the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣汙染防制法), Wu said that Lee has the authority to deny FPG the permits, since the cracker’s emissions have been proven to harm public health.
The article states that permits should be issued after a facility’s emissions pass inspection.
Association of Yunlin Art, Culture and Ecology member Lin Fu-yuan (林富源) said Yunlin residents have spent a considerable amount of time and energy battling pollution from the cracker complex.
Saying that the danger posed by the naphtha cracker makes the permits subject to public scrutiny, he called on Lee to be as proactive as Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).
Asked about the rally, Yunlin County Environmental Protection Bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Chiao-wei (張喬維) said that “the opinions gathered today will be registered and presented to the upper management.”
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