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Kaohsiung city council passes rules for petrochemical pipelines

Kaohsiung city council passes rules for petrochemical pipelines

Kaohsiung, May 21 (CNA) The Kaohsiung City council on Thursday passed two regulations requiring companies with industrial pipelines under the roads of Kaohsiung to move their headquarters to the southern port city by the end of 2016 or risk losing access to the pipelines. The city council passed "Rules on Existing Industrial Pipelines" and "Rules on Environmental Maintenance" with a majority vote.
The 66-seat city council is comprised of 33 councilors who are members of the Democratic Progressive Party, 24 who are from the ruling party Kuomintang, with the rest coming from other parties. Besides moving their headquarters, the regulations stipulate that the 13 enterprises which own underground pipelines in the city need to submit a maintenance plan and pay pipeline maintenance inspection fees every year. The regulations also stipulate that pipelines which had suffered serious safety accidents in the past will not be allowed to be used anymore. The rules need the Cabinet's consent to take effect. The local government regulations were meant to close a legal gap in the management of industrial pipelines after a series of deadly gas explosions ripped through the streets of Kaohsiung last July 31st and August 1, killing more than 30 people and causing massive property damage. According to the Kaohsiung City government, there are 89 underground petroleum pipelines in the city, with the total length of 1298.68 kilometers. The pipelines are owned by 13 enterprises and are used to transport raw petroleum products including ethylene, propylene and benzene. Only three of the 13 enterprises - Formosa Petrochemical Corp., LCY Chemical Corp. and Grand Pacific Petrochemical Corp. - are headquartered in Kaohsiung. Tseng Wen-sheng (???), the city's economic development chief, in March said the rules are aimed at inviting the petrochemical firms' attention to "working with local people on ensuring safety and environmental quality of the city; tax revenues are not our top concern here." Nonetheless, Kaohsiung may increase its tax revenues by about NT$2.4 billion (US$78.86 million) per year if the 10 enterprises move their headquarters there, local media reported in March. Vice Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin (???) in March said the draft regulations raise several questions, including the issue of whether it is appropriate to link an enterprise's headquarters to its pipeline maintenance. There are also concerns that the regulations may have deviated from the principle of free economy, and would adversely affect business operations and investments, added Shen. He said the Economics Ministry's Legal Affairs Committee thinks that the regulations encroach on the freedom of enterprise and movement, which raise the possibility of violation of the Constitution. (By Cheng Che-fon, Milly Lin, Elizabeth Hsu and Kuo Chung-han)


Updated : 2021-09-25 02:24 GMT+08:00