LCY Chemical Corp chairman Bowei Lee (李謀偉) was among nine people acquitted yesterday in a second ruling on charges related to the 2014 Kaohsiung gas pipeline explosions, while convictions against three city officials were reduced.
The High Court’s Kaohsiung branch ruled that sentences for former Kaohsiung City Government secretary-general Chao Chien-chiao (趙建喬), and Kaohsiung Sewage System Office technicians Chiu Ping-wen (邱炳文) and Yang Tsung-jen (楊宗仁), both now retired, of four years, 10 months would be reduced, with Chao and Chiu handed three-year, six-month terms, and Yang two years, six months on charges including negligence causing death.
The explosions under Kaisyuan, Yisin and Sanduo roads in Kaohsiung’s Cianjhen (前鎮) and Lingya (苓雅) districts began shortly before midnight on July 31, 2014, and continued into the early hours of the following day. Thirty-two people were killed and 321 injured.
The ruling said that the trio were in charge of the underground pipeline project, which began in 1991, and were responsible for engineering and project supervision, as well as testing and inspections upon completion.
Their jobs were to be “guarantors” on behalf of the city government, the court said.
However, they did not conduct on-site testing and inspections, and other required tasks to ensure the safety of the public infrastructure, it said, adding that their lapses had a direct causal relationship with the incident.
Faulty procedures and changes to the designs resulted in contractors installing pipes next to a culvert, but not using anti-rust protection, the court said.
Twenty years in the damp environment had corroded the pipes in the section, leading to a propene leak, with the gas accumulating, which culminated in a series of explosions, it said.
In outlining the roles and responsibilities of those charged, the court said that nine executives and employees of LCY Chemical Corp and China General Terminal & Distribution Corp, which supplied and operated the pipelines, were not aware of the faulty procedures and altered designs.
It was a matter of time before the lines would rupture, something that LCY Chemical and China General Terminal & Distribution could not have known, it said.
Most of the people who sustained injuries and the family members of those who were killed, as well as those whose properties were damaged, had reached settlements and received compensation from the Kaohsiung City Government and the two firms, as well as government assistance to rebuild, the court said, adding that this was among the reasons for the acquittals and the reduced sentences.
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