UNFULFILLED PROMISE:The workers were protesting the planned closure of their plant in Changhua County after it failed to comply with an order to reduce pollution
Staff writer, with CNA
Employees of the Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp’s Changhua plant yesterday clash with police in front of the Changhua County Government building in Chuanghua City.
Photo: Tang Shih-ming, Taipei Times
Employees from Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp’s Changhua plant yesterday protested in front of the Changhua County Government building and clashed with police when they tried to break through a police cordon.
More than 1,000 workers surrounded the building, the second such protest this week, expressing anger over the county authorities’ rejection of permit extensions for operations of the plant’s three power generators.
Without the renewed operating permits, the plant is expected to completely shut down tomorrow, leaving workers unemployed.
The protesters demanded to meet with Changhua County Commissioner Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷).
Many protestors attempted to break through a police cordon, clashing with police and leaving some injured.
According to authorities, the sulfur content in the bituminous coal used by the plant’s power generators is 1.2 percent, which exceeds the 0.84 percent to 0.87 percent they had promised to maintain.
The county had repeatedly asked the company to improve the situation by a deadline of Wednesday last week and accused it of failing to fulfill its promise.
However, the Formosa Plastics Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Taiwan, which owns Formosa Chemicals & Firbre, at the end of last month said that the Changhua plant has not been fined for excessive pollution since 2010.
The company accused the Changhua County Government of forcing the plant to shut down in order to pave the way for an urban planning project.
The group has asked the county government to explain why it refused to allow the plant to extend operations of its power generators.
Wei came out to meet the protesters, saying that the Executive Yuan cares about the livelihood of the plant’s workers.
Wei urged workers to trust him, saying that the central government would try to protect them.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to make a proposal to govern air pollution and balance industrial development and environmental causes, Wei said.
The ministry said that the company and the workers should sit down with the county government to find a solution.
However, the protesters continued their rally in front of the county government hall, saying that unless Wei presents a solution to reverse the shutdown, they would not leave.
The plant in Changhua specializes in the production of select artificial fibers, including nylon and rayon.
Hurt by escalating competition from China, the Changhua plant is Formosa Chemicals & Fibre only nonprofitable production site, having lost about NT$1.7 billion (US$54.13 million) over the past five years.