That's two fires so far this month at the Formosa Plastics 6th Naptha Cracker Plant at Mailiao, Yunlin County. The plant's hydrodesulphurization unit started burning on Sunday 25 July, and on Monday the resulting black smoke could still be seen from well north of Taichung Harbour, more than 70 km away.Formosa Plastics on a good day
The company is planning to expand its Mailiao facilities, which are built on nearly 3000 hectares of 'reclaimed land' that used to be coastal waters, within the critically endangered pink dolphins' habitat. The massive complex is already notorious for generating water and air pollution; thick, stinking yellow smog often sits over the area; and local school children sometimes have to wear surgical masks at school to try to lessen the headaches.
Formosa Plastics has a history of explosions and toxic waste dumping on an international scale (see this Taiwan Corpwatch page for a taster and also this U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board video of a Formosa Plastics explosion at Point Comfort, Texas in 2005.
Matsu's Fish Conservation Union is working hard, through the Environmental Impact Assessment process and media campaigns, to prevent the further deterioration of the environment and quality of life along the west coast through the planned Formosa Plastics expansion and the construction of Kuo-Kuang's 4000+ hectare petrochemical development. If these plans go ahead, the north and south sides of the biologically productive Jhuoshuei River estuary will be boxed in by chemical factories.
To view the area, go to Google Earth and search for 'Mailiao Industrial Area' - you can see the papaya-shaped Mailiao factory site sitting just south of the river mouth.
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