Protests outside the Formosa Plastics Plant at Mailiao in the wake of the second fire within a month at the plant: Photo - Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association.
Local residents yesterday morning continued to block access on one access road to the Formosa Plastic Group's (FPG) petrochemical complex at Mailiao on the Yunlin County coast in protest of two recent fires and excessive pollution levels generated by the petrochemical complex. Protesters disbursed after succeeding in disrupting traffic to and from the plant for part of the morning.
Understandably police were present to maintain order. However, the worrying trend of using police to defend the actions of unethical corporations continues. This creates the impression that the police are siding with corporations against the well being of suffering local communities. With the government ignoring court rulings to stop construction in planned petrochemical industry expansion projects the stage is being set for an extremely volatile situation as those effected by the projects are made to feel that even when they win in court the government and developers just ignore it and forge ahead regardless. Such a situation will almost certainly push people into taking the law into their own hands.
It is clearly unwise and unfeeling of the authorities to uphold the rights of petrochemical industry workers to work while totally ignoring the rights of locals to have a clean and non toxic environment. Many local farmers, fishers and aquaculturists have had their livelihoods ruined by the toxic fallout from two recent fires. Surely their right to work is equally as important as that of a petrochemical industry worker? But the police and authorities seem to be ignoring that.
The police really should be seen to be even-handed and not openly "pro" the petrochemical industry. Negligence, likely criminal, at the minimum must be the cause of some of the current pollution problems. It really is time for FPG and its management to come up against the heavy hand of the law that police seem so keen to dish out to anti petrochemical industry stakeholders in Yunlin, Changhua, Taichung, Miaoli and outside the Environmental Protection Administration in Taipei.
For more on yesterday's protests see Residents block access to FPG plant for a second day in today's Taipei Times.
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