Kaohsiung charges LCY chair, 11 others over blasts

By Katherine Wei, The China Post

The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office (KDPO) yesterday indicted a total of 12 people for professional negligence that ultimately caused the gas pipe explosions in late July, including LCY Chemical Corp. (LCY, �����a�ƾǤu�~) Chairman Bowei Lee (���Ѱ�) and the head of Kaohsiung City’s Maintenance Office. The multiple blasts occurred around midnight on July 31, ripping apart several blocks in downtown Kaohsiung and taking the lives of 32 people as well as injuring over 300 others. The prosecution first suspected that the propene pipes belonging to LCY Chemical were damaged, causing irregular pressure that eventually led to the explosions, and the suspicion was confirmed yesterday as Kaohsiung prosecutors indicted Lee and the head of his factory Wang Hsi-chou, on-duty team leader Tsai Yung-chien, engineer Sheng Ming-hsiu, operating supervisor Lee Ruei-lin, control room operator Huang Chin-ming and another three people from petrochemical transportation company China General Terminal and Distribution Corporation. All were indicted for offenses against public safety. KDPO Summons Over 500 for Questioning After looking into the culverts in which LCY had illegally planted its propene pipelines, Kaohsiung prosecutors also discovered an operating culvert that was without supervision; three government officials of the Public Works Bureau that were responsible for the pipeline construction were indicted for accidental homicide. Aside from the indictment, the KDPO also summoned another 510 people for questioning over the explosions. The prosecution stated that it has collected the names of those allegedly responsible with each pipeline and culvert investigation. LCY ‘Stunned’ over Indictment

After the KDPO’s announcement, LCY released a statement saying that it was ��stunned�� over the results, for it reasoned that the ungoverned culvert is the main reason for the explosions, despite the fact that the exploded pipelines belonged to LCY. The company will be taking action after it has received the indictment documents. Kaohsiung Mayor OK’d: KDPO Accusations that Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (����) was responsible for the blasts came from many following the explosions, yet Chen was not indicted yesterday as the KDPO decided the mayor had not neglected her duties. The five ranking government officials blamed for a lack of crisis intervention efforts are Chen, Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Liu Shih-fang (�B�@��), Greater Kaohsiung Fire Bureau Director Chen Hung-lung (���i�s), Environmental Protection Bureau Director Chen Chin-der (�����w) and Labor Affairs Bureau Director Chung Kung-chao (���լ�); yet all five were deemed responsible by the KDPO as all had contacted one another shortly after the blasts and dispatched government staff to inspect the scene of the explosions. In trying to prevent further damage, seven firefighters and policemen died and 33 civil servants were injured. Two months after the blasts, Chen and the five officials had been summoned to the KDPO for questioning after Kuomintang Kaohsiung City Councilor Hsu Kun-yuan (�\�X��) reported Chen and her officials to the KDPO, pressing misconduct charges for violating Article 130 of the Criminal Code, which states that a public official who neglects his duties, thereby causing a catastrophe, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than three years but not more than 10 years.