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Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Company, Taiwan


Description:

The Taiwanese state-owned Kuokuang petrochemical project met its end in 2011 due to objections from farmers, local residents and environmentalists.

  The Kuokuang project was first proposed in 2006 with the final site selected on a coastal wetland in southern Changhua County in 2008. It planned to build a 300,000 barrel-a-day refinery, factories that could produce 25 varieties of chemical products, and a 1.2-million-ton-a-year ethylene plant.

  According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the project could boost Taiwan’s economy by helping create 375 thousand jobs, attract NT$933.6 billion in future investments, and generate NT$460 billion in annual output.

  MOEA pledged to ensure the public that the cracker project would have minimal impact on the environment. “The Kuokuang venture will use the latest technology to increase Taiwan’s petrochemical production capacity while creating less pollution,” said Woody T.J. Duh, director-general of the MOEA’s Industrial Development Bureau.

  However, civil groups warned that there could be significant environmental impacts, including those on air pollution, human health risks, changes to coastal geography, the endangered Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, and the area’s water supply.

  As the industrial complex planned to reclaim land of more than 4,000 hectares and build a harbor to ship petrochemical products in an area which have long provided much of the country's fish and farm products, it could threaten not just the air quality but also food security, critics argued.

  Besides, the proposed site, Dacheng Wetland, was Taiwan’s greatest coastal wetland, rich in plant and animal life. A naphtha cracking plant could put the kidney of Taiwan in jeopardy. Also, oil tankers and pollution might also damage the habitat of the already endangered pink-hued Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins that lived in the waters off the wetland and numbered only between 80 and 90 in 2008.

   "The population [of humpback dolphins] has reached a tipping point," said Chou Lien-siang, the National Taiwan University professor who led a research team to assess the influence of the petrochemical plant on the humpback dolphins. "It will decrease drastically if any critical event happens.”

  The Kuokuang petrochemical development project has probably seen the strongest public opposition to an industrial project in Taiwan in years, which signals a new priority on environmental considerations.

On April 22, 2011 Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, nixed the application for the US$24 billion offshore refinery and the case The Kuokuang case is now referred to locally as a turning point for environmentalism in Taiwan.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Company, Taiwan
Country:Taiwan
Location of conflict:Changhua County
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Chemical industries
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:
Crude oil
Chemical products
E-waste

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

The Kuokuang project planned to built a 300,000 barrel-a-day refinery, factories that could produce 25 varieties of chemical products, and a 1.2-million-ton-a-year ethylene plant.

Project area:2,000
Level of Investment:24,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:N/A
Start of the conflict:2006
End of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC) from Taiwan
The Far Eastern Group (FEG) from Taiwan
Fubon Financial Holding Co. from Taiwan
China Man-Made Fiber Corporation (CMFC) from Taiwan
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Economic Affairs
The Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau
Fisheries Agency
the Coast Guard Administration
Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:the Society of Wilderness
Changhua Environmental Protection Union
Wild at Heart
Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Other Environmental impactsOil tankers and pollution might also damage the habitat of the already endangered pink-hued Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins that lived in the waters off the wetland.
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
The project was suspended by the President and Relocation - there was a plan to relocate the project to Malaysia but the company later suspended the investment for economic reasons.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The refinery’s fate seems to suggest that the industrialized island's environmental concerns have reached a critical point where a balance between development and environmentalism has to be worked out to ensure sustainable investments and ecological protection.

Sources and Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Taiwan’s Environmental Movement: the Case of Anti-Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Industry Movement and Anti-Nuclear Waste Movement in Orchid Island
file:///C:/Users/changs/Desktop/%E4%B8%8B%E8%BC%89/Taiwan_Environmental_Movement_Hsiang_Yuan_Wu.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Save dolphins campaign
http://en.wildatheart.org.tw/issues/314

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

The Anti-Kuokuang Camp (English)
http://news.cts.com.tw/cts/english/201101/201101310663361.html

Anti-Kuokuang Petrochemical campaign (Chinese)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wUcTidyH4g

Other documents

Dacheng Wetland Dacheng Wetland where the petrochemical plant would have been built (other industrial parks can be seen in the background)
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/4349122494_36e1b023a0_b.jpg

Pink-hued Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins The already endangered pink-hued Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins that lived in the waters off the wetland
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Pink_Dolphin.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:Taiwan Environmental Information Association
Last update18/10/2018

Images

 

Pink-hued Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins

The already endangered pink-hued Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins that lived in the waters off the wetland

Dacheng Wetland

Dacheng Wetland where the petrochemical plant would have been built (other industrial parks can be seen in the background)