The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday approved an environmental impact report submitted by Formosa Idemitsu Petrochemical Corp which benefited the firm’s bid to establish a hydrogenated hydrocarbon resin (HHCR) plant at the nation’s sixth naphtha cracker complex in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮).
The resolution was made despite strenuous protests by environmental protection groups, who accused Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) of forging statistics on volatile organic compound emissions from the complex’s storage tanks.
Taiwan Water Resources Conservation Union director Jennifer Nien (黏麗玉) and spokespersons Chen Jiao-hua (陳椒華) and Wu Li-hui (吳麗慧), who often attend environmental impact assessment (EIA) meetings, said that FPG has been presenting biased statistics to EIA committee members, since it calculates its reduction in emissions of volatile organic compounds by subtracting emissions from the maximum permitted amount prescribed in EIA reports, when the figure should have been produced by deducting emissions from the emission cap imposed by the Yunlin County Environmental Protection Bureau, which were given after on-site appraisals.
In doing so, they said, the company has understated emissions, including those for light gas oil and flushing oil, which helped the complex’s fourth-phase expansion plan, which includes the HHCR plant, pass the initial EIA in 2012.
Chen asked EPA Minister Wei Kuo-yen (魏國彥): “Between the EIA committee and local environmental protection agencies, who should be responsible for reviewing EIA reports submitted by developers if there is doubt over their validity?”
Wei initially could not provide an answer, but later said that all three parties mentioned by Chen should be responsible for the task.
Dissatisfied with the minister’s answer, Chen refused to leave the conference room to let Wei and EIA members issue resolutions based on the discussions. The two later engaged in a loud exchange, prompting several police officers to rush into the room.
She finally agreed to leave the room when EIA committee member Chang Hsueh-wen (張學文) said that the committee should “definitely be responsible” for reviewing EIA reports.
However, another committee member later dismissed Chang’s comment, saying the developers should be held responsible for reports that contain misleading information, thereby shifting the responsibility to FPG and Man Ning (曼寧), a consultancy company appointed by FPG to handle EIA-related issues.
The report had been passed by the time the environmentalists and Yunlin County residents were invited back into the meeting room.