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Executive Yuan to discuss petrochemical zone plans

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah will meet with the Ministry of Economic Affairs again on Aug. 20 to discuss a proposal to set up a special zone for petrochemical companies in Kaohsiung, officials said Saturday.

The opinions of the Kaohsiung City government, petrochemical companies and local residents will also be brought up for discussion during the meeting, according to the officials.

The Economics Ministry previously briefed Jiang on the proposal during a meeting held Aug. 13, without any decision on whether to adopt it.

The plan, which was conceived in the wake of deadly gas explosions that rocked Kaohsiung on July 31, would involve relocating existing petrochemical complexes in Kaohsiung to an area near the city's port, avoiding the need to lay raw material pipelines under residential areas, according to media reports.

The explosions, which killed 30 people and left more than 300 injured, occurred in a densely populated area in the southern part of downtown Kaohsiung.

Under the plan, the government reportedly would reclaim 400 hectares of land from an area off the coast of Kaohsiung's Siaogang District to build a special zone for petrochemical plants, which are currently scattered around the populous port city.

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