Taiwan EPA cancels closure of Formosa Plastics plant

Changhua County slammed factory for excessive pollution

Workers protesting against the Formosa Chemicals closure last year.

Workers protesting against the Formosa Chemicals closure last year. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A factory in Changhua owned by the Formosa Plastics Group can resume operations despite its closure in a pollution dispute, the Environmental Protection Administration announced Friday.

Last September, the Changhua County Government refused to renew the operating license for three power generators at a plant in Changhua City owned by Formosa Chemicals and Fibre Corporation (台化).

The county said that the sulfur content in the bituminous coal used to fuel the generators was higher than the level the company had promised.

As a result of the county’s rejection of an extension to the operating license, the factory was forced to close down. Workers protested against the decision, but local action groups said the pollution was intolerable in such a densely populated area.

Following an appeals procedure launched by the company, an EPA review committee said Friday it was canceling the county’s rejection of the license extension, but it did not agree to a company demand to approve the extension.

In other words, the EPA turned the clock back to the original situation, where Formosa Chemicals would still have to apply with the county for an extension, and the county was asked to find another way if it wanted to act against pollution.

The original license was still valid for the time being, so Formosa Chemicals could restart the factory if it wanted to, the EPA said. The company described Friday’s ruling as “belated justice.”

The county said it was only following the law on pollution issues, while company management alleged the local government was interested in the factory land for an urban development project.

The factory produced artificial fibers such as nylon and rayon, and employed about 1,000 workers.

Updated : 2021-04-12 10:08 GMT+08:00