Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Toxic Cocktail: who's pickin up the tab?

"Taipei Times
Firm under fire over plant blaze

PUBLIC RELATIONS MELTDOWN:Formosa Petrochemical, owner of the Sixth Naphtha Cracker, has faced criticism over suspicious animal deaths after a major fire at the plant"

The headline and plurb kind of just sizzle and pop. There's no real bang in this. It looks a little hot but as soon as you get into the text of the article you soon realise there's no spice in it. Probably just a weak attempt to cover the story without rattling the cage of the corporate ogre in the story. The string of fires down at the Formosa Petrochemical Corp’s Sixth Naphtha Cracker in Mailiao, Yunlin County are no secret but the article just mentions one fire in July 2010. There were two around then actually but I guess our reporter saw fit not to mention the other fire or the ones which came after. The article waffles on about activists and EIAs and dead ducklings but never really gets down to the issue of Formosa Plastics needing to take responsibility for the toxic landscape it's created down in Mailiao.

Just over a week ago we were told that Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) would become involved in the disagreement between the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) regarding an EPA decision that could lead to Formosa Petrochemical Corp’s withdrawal from an investment project. And what might that mean? Is Premier Chen going to smooth the ruffled feathers of the corporate ogre and insure that it will be business as usual for the petrochemical giant asap?

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that those grey smoke-filled skies around Mailiao aren't healthy. Local folks might lack the funds and resources to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the sudden deaths of fish, ducklings and other animals following fires at Formosa are a result of the toxic fallout from the fires but that doesn't make Formosa right and excuse what is happening down there.

Lawyers, unethical politicians, rich corporations, corrupt officials. These might keep the debt collector from the door in the short term. But somewhere, sometime in the not too distant future the tab for this toxic cocktail is going to have to be paid! And it will be paid in the currency of poor health, disease and death. It will be paid by the environment and all those who live in it; human and non human. It's legacy will run generations and it will be our legacy.

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