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CPC Corp. defends itself in blame game

TAIPEI--Taiwan's state-run oil company, CPC Corp., Taiwan, on Monday rejected a charge that maintaining the propylene pipe suspected of triggering deadly gas explosions in Kaohsiung last week was its responsibility, the latest salvo in a war of words over the blasts.

“I have no idea where LCY Chemical Corp.'s report came from,” said CPC Corp. Vice President Liu Cheng-hsie, referring to the chemical company that said CPC Corp. was in charge of the pipe's upkeep.

Kaohsiung authorities believe an underground pipe used by LCY Chemical leaked propylene and was the main culprit behind the explosions.

The privately run chemical company said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange on Sunday, however, that CPC Corp. was responsible for “regularly checking and maintaining” the pipe.

LCY Chemical also claimed that anti-corrosion work on the pipe is currently done by King Mao Cathodic Protection Co. Ltd., which it says is a subcontractor of CPC Corp.

CPC Corp.'s Liu said his company checks it own conveyance pipes daily for damage and treat them for corrosion as necessary, but those maintenance checks are not done on piping systems owned by other companies.

It has never helped LCY Chemical deal with rust or corrosion on its propylene pipes, Liu insisted.

CPC Corp. spokesman Chang Jui-tsung displayed a document indicating that the pipeline was sold to LCY Chemical by Taiwan Polypropylene Co. after it was installed by CPC Corp. for Taiwan Polypropylene in 1991.

The property and management rights of the underground pipes were all transferred to Taiwan Polypropylene after they were installed, Chang stressed.

Taiwan Polypropylene later sold the pipeline to LCY Chemical when the two companies merged in 2006, and LCY Chemical has since performed maintenance and safety checks on the pipe by itself, the spokesman said.

“There is no maintenance deal between CPC Corp. and LCY Chemical, and CPC Corp. has never charged any maintenance and repair fees,” Chang said.

As of Monday, 28 people were confirmed dead, 307 injured and two missing in the powerful blasts.

It's the second major disaster to hit Taiwan within 10 days after a TransAsia Airways flight crashed in the outlying island county of Penghu on July 23, killing 48 of the 58 people on board.

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