Local Residents Protest against Oil Refinery in Taiwan

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Local residents clashed with police at Taiwan's biggest oil refinery in Yunlin County, a day after the plant caught on fire. Residents are against the company’s expansion plan because of pollution and fire hazard concerns.

On Monday, scores of residents in Yunlin (pron: yoon-lin) County's Mailiao (pron: mai-lyaow) Township gathered in front of an oil refinery to protest against the plant and its upcoming expansion plan.

On Sunday, the Formosa Petrochemicals Corp. facility caught fire, but the blaze was under control the next day. No one was hurt in the incident. The local government ordered the company be fined for air pollution caused by the fire, and has shut down part of the plant.

[Su Chih-fen, Yunlin County Magistrate]: (female, Mandarin)
"There have been two fires this month already. After July 7th, we also appealed to the central government. We sent official documents to various governmental departments, but we did not hear from any of them. I think in the case of Formosa Petrochemical Complex, the protesters do have a reason."

Local authorities are currently evaluating a refinery expansion plan, which has enraged local residents already concerned about continuous pollution from the facility and the potential for more fires.

The crowd threw eggs and water bottles at police who took shelter behind shields in front of the building.

Both police and protesters were injured.

[Su Chih-fen, Yunlin County Magistrate]: (female, Mandarin)
"Even if the fifth-stage expansion passes the environmental safety inspection, if there is no explanation of the current problems, then the county government will not rule out the possibility of using extreme means."

Local residents who saw the blaze said they are too scared to live in the same neighborhood as a petrochemical plant.

Formosa Petrochemical says it will investigate the cause of the fire and look for ways to improve the plant.

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