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Groups march in central Taiwan to protest air pollution

2017/06/10 21:41:27

Taipei, June 10 (CNA) Several groups marched in Yunlin on Saturday to demand the local government do more to reduce the use of coal and carbon emissions to improve air quality in the county.

At the rally, protesters urged Yunlin County government to stop issuing permits to Formosa Plastics Group's sixth naphtha cracking plant, located in Yunlin County's Mailiao Township, for the use of low-grade coal, which has been blamed for air pollution and an increase in the incidence of health problems among local residents.

The local government should stop issuing such permits to the plant after its current permit expires on Sunday, the groups argued.

Carrying banners declaring "The central (government) should not leave Yunlin behind," protesters also asked the central government to help ensure the plant replace the use of low-grade coal with natural gas.

In response, Yunlin County government said in a statement that it recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mailiao Power Corp., located at the naphtha cracking plant, in which the company pledged to replace three coal-fired generators with natural gas powered generators by 2025.

However, protesters said the arrangement is irresponsible and wanted the plant to stop using low-grade coal immediately.

Only when the plant stops using such coal will air quality in Yunlin improve, they maintained.

Lawmaker Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) of the Democratic Progressive Party, took part in the rally and showed support for the groups' demands.

The plant has the ability to make the change immediately so there is no need to wait until 2025, Liu said.

Saturday's rally was organized by Air Clean Taiwan and other environmental groups based in Yunlin. In addition to Yunlin residents, people from nearby Taichung City, Changhua, Nantou and Chiayi counties also joined the protest.

On hearing the news that renowned documentary film maker and environmental activist Chi Po-lin (齊柏林) died in a helicopter crash while conducting an aerial photograph mission related to the sequel to the award-winning "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above" earlier in the day, protesters expressed their sorrow at losing such an important advocate for the environment.

(By Chiang Chun-liang and Elaine Hou)