Explosion prompts calls for moving of CPC Taoyuan refinery

Taipei-A gas explosion ignited a fire at state-run CPC Corp., Taiwan's Taoyuan refinery Monday, prompting calls for relocation of the refinery in Guishan District, although no casualties were reported.

The gas blast and fire occurred at a diesel hydrotreating unit of the refinery at 6:42 a.m.

The fire was brought under control at 7:30 a.m. after hundreds of firefighters and 40 fire trucks and ambulances were sent to the scene and was fully extinguished later that day, the Taoyuan fire department said.

Initial findings show that a ruptured pipe might be the culprit, the department said.

After the accident, CPC Vice President Lee Shun-chin (???) said that the explosion and fire will not affect its domestic fuel supplies.

The diesel hydrotreating unit was reactivated just after annual maintenance of the facility was completed a day earlier, CPC spokeswoman Bi Su-chien (???)said, adding that the company is still investigating the cause of the fire.

Bi also said that CPC will ensure sufficient domestic supplies by diverting supplies from CPC's Talin refinery in Yunlin County and suspending exports.

Meanwhile that day, the Taoyuan City government issued a fine of NT$1 million (US$34,300) to the Taoyuan refinery for causing air pollution, while calling, along with various environmental protection activists, for relocation of the refinery.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (???) urged CPC to come up with a timetable for relocation of the refinery, which is situated on the border of Guishan, Taoyuan and Luzhu districts, with a total population of 760,000 people.

It is not the first time an accident has occurred at the Taoyuan refinery, said environmental protection activist Niu Hsu-ting (???), who has been long concerned about public safety in Guishan, while calling on the government to take action for a long-stalled relocation plan.

In 1996, a gas explosion occurred at the Taoyuan refinery, causing one death.

In response, CPC Chairman Tai Chein (??) said that the company is seeking land for the location for its refinery and that planning for relocation can be completed one year after a location is found.

CPC has been blamed for at least seven major industrial accidents since 1996, according to data compiled by the company.

This year alone, aside from Monday's gas blast, an explosion occurred Jan. 18 at its nitrogen gas supply center in Miaoli, causing five injuries, according to the data.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel