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June 28, 2017

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CPDC refuses to remove pipeline on legal grounds

The removal of a pipeline around the site of the Kaohsiung gas explosions was forced to stop yesterday after China Petrochemical Development Corporation (CPDC) did not cooperate with the effort to remove the company's pipeline, saying that the government did not have a legal reason for demanding the company remove the pipelines.

In order to guarantee the progress of the reconstruction effort and the safety of citizens around the blast site, local authorities started to cut and remove the pipeline yesterday.

However, according to the Water Resources Bureau (WRA), the CPDC sent legal counsel to the site to call a halt to the operation, stating that the pipeline still belongs to the company and the government does not have the authority to remove it.

Although the CPDC issued a statement earlier in the morning expressing that it is willing to cooperate with the removal since it benefits citizens, it reneged on that statement at the site.

The CPDC pointed out that the government's decision to forbid the company to put the pipeline back has seriously affected not only its business but also the whole industry, and could also violate many employees' basic rights. In addition, the CPDC demanded the City Government conduct operations according to the law and think twice before making any decisions.

"We also worry that if we can no longer use the pipeline for transport we may need to use tank cars, which may be more dangerous than pipelines," said Yu Chien-sung (余建松), a CPDC spokesman.

Responding to the CPDC, the government issued a statement in which it restated its position regarding the removal of the pipeline. According to the Public Works Bureau of the Kaohsiung City Government, the pipeline is supposed to transport oil. Yet, it has been found to transport propylene instead. Therefore, the removal of the pipeline has to be completed as soon as possible. In addition, the other pipelines at within same system should be gotten rid of as well.

The city government also pointed out that if there are any disagreements, companies can file an appeal for further deliberation.

Kaohsiung City Government Ready for Pipeline Removal

During the morning, three bureaus of the Kaohsiung City Government, the Labor Affairs Bureau (LAB), the Environmental Protective Bureau (EPB) and WRA were at the site where the pipeline was to be removed in order to supervise the work.

The operation is time-consuming. Before removal, the city government needed to negotiate an agreement with prosecutors. After the prosecutors agreed to the operation, technicians could start work. They had to be very careful when carrying out the operation since there could still be harmful gases left in the pipe.

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