The China Post news staff
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Yunlin County Government on Monday conditionally approved a one-year extension of eight operating licenses for using bituminous coal and petroleum coke at the Sixth Naphtha Cracking Complex run by Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) in the Mailiao Township of the southern county. Of the eight operating permits, six were renewed to allow five sets of cogeneration facilities and one petrochemical production line at the No. 3 plant in the complex to burn bituminous coal and another two renewed to permit the use of petroleum coke at the No. 1 plant.
After screening applications filed by the FPG to renew the operating permits based on relevant environmental rules and regulations, the county government approved the renewal on the condition that FPG carry out a seasonal pollution emission reduction project from October to next March and march toward the use of clean or renewable energy, according to a top official with the county’s Environmental Protection Bureau.
Lin Chang-chao (林長造), director of the bureau, said that the county government had asked FPG to gradually reduce the use of bituminous coal at its naphtha cracking plants since 2015, with the reduction amount totaling 2,312,726 metric tons over a period of two years, for a reduction rate of 14.1 percent. Validity Period Sharply Shortened In addition, Lin said that the validity period for operating permits has been shortened to one or two years from five years, in order for the government to more strictly review environmental protection improvements required for FPG.
Nevertheless, the county government’s Monday approval came under fire from environmental protectionists.
Chen Tai-an, an environmental law professor at the TransWorld University, based in Yunlin County, said that if the county government really cared about the health of its residents, the government should put “public health … above the interests of business conglomerates.”
“But the Yunlin county government approving the renewal of the eight operating permits for the FPG seems an action prompted by the central government’s worry about power supply shortage,” Chen said.
The professor lashed out at the county government for denying civil groups and experts an opportunity to present their opinions during the process of screening the permits renewal applications filed by FPG.
Now that the permits had been renewed, he continued, the county government must thoroughly enforce the improvement requirements imposed on the FPG and the central government should complete the legislation of the ban on the use of bituminous coal and petroleum coke as soon as possible to safeguard the health of the public. Sit-in protests Meanwhile, environmental protection groups and civil groups staged a sit-in Monday afternoon in front of the Yunlin county government building to protest the renewal of the operating license for FPG’s naphtha cracking plants. They have decided to hold regular anti-air pollution concerts at the same venue through the end of June.
FPG holds a total of 24 operating permits for its naphtha cracking plants in Yunlin County, with around 10 of those permits for the operation of the group’s cogeneration units to expire in June and July.