Water park hit by powder explosion can reopen: court

The China Post news staff

A water park where an explosion of flammable dust killed 15 people and injured almost 500 others in 2015 could reopen after a court on Wednesday overturned a government order that had suspended its license. The Tourism Bureau, which ordered the Formosa Fun Coast water park to suspend business following the accident, said it could appeal against the verdict handed down by the Taipei Administrative High Court. The accident occurred at a concert on the evening of June 29, 2015 when colored powder was sprayed and accidentally ignited, creating balls of fire that engulfed hundreds of young party-goers. Following what is believed to have been the worst explosion accident in Taiwan, the Tourism Bureau suspended Formosa Fun Coast’s license on grounds that it violated the tourism regulations by illegally renting out its facilities to the concert organizer. The bureau ordered the park to stay closed until the investigation of the accident and improvements to its management were completed. There was also an additional fine of NT$50,000 for the park’s management.

The park has stayed closed since then, but its management has now won its appeal against the suspension order. The court ruled that the Tourism Bureau did not have sufficient evidence to prove that the park’s act of renting out its facilities to the concert organizer would necessarily endanger public safety. The order for the entire park to close following the accident that occurred at only one of its areas was unnecessary, the court said. But the court upheld the NT$50,000 fine on the park. Responding to the verdict, Tourism Bureau Deputy Director General Chang Shi-chung said Formosa Fun Coast had never applied to reopen its doors since the suspension order was given.

The bureau will decide whether it will file an appeal after receiving a written verdict from the court, Chang said. The party organizer rented the water park in New Taipei City’s Bali District to hold what was billed as a colored dust party in a drained pool. The organizer later indicted and sentenced to five years in prison. But the owners of the water park avoided criminal charges.

Despite calls by victims to reopen an investigation into the park management’s responsibility, the Shilin District Prosecutors Office decided in October 2016 against pressing charges.