VP rebuts allegation of role in Kaohsiung gas blasts
Taipei, Aug. 27 (CNA) Vice President Wu Den-yih's office on Wednesday sought to refute accusations that he was responsible for last month's deadly gas blasts in Kaohsiung by producing documents indicating the pipes behind the explosions were installed before he became mayor of the southern city.
City councilors from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have accused Wu, who governed Kaohsiung from 1990 to 1998, approved a plan by state-run oil company CPC Corp., Taiwan to replace dozens of old pipelines running underneath the very residential areas where a propylene leak caused multiple explosions July 31.
The renewed pipes included one owned by LCY Chemical Corp. -- believed to be the one that triggered the blasts which killed 30 and injured over 300 in the middle of the night.
Wu's aides dismissed the accusations in a Wednesday statement.
His office said the problematic pipeline and others carrying petrochemical materials were built before Wu was appointed mayor of the industrial city in 1990, producing a document showing LCY Chemical had paid CPC Corp., Taiwan fees for the pipe years earlier in 1985 and 1986.
The statement suggested the current Kaohsiung municipal government is instead accountable for failing to order LCY Chemical to shut down its pipeline hours before the blasts after the leak had already been discovered.
Residents had begun to report to a gas leak along Kaisyuan Road, the area hit hardest by the explosions, in the hours leading up the blasts, the statement said, implicitly critiquing the administration of Mayor Chen Chu, a senior member of the DPP.
The statement said Wu is confident investigators will get to the bottom of the incident and hold those responsible accountable.
(By Kelven Huang, Chang Che-fon, Chen Ja-fo and Scully Hsiao)enditem/WH
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