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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

NameKuokuang Petrochemical Technology Company, Taiwan
CountryTaiwan
SiteChanghua 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
Oil and gas refining
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific Commodities
Crude oil
E-waste
Chemical products

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThe 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 (in hectares)2,000
Level of Investment (in USD)24,000,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationN/A
Start Date2006
End Date2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesChinese 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 actorsMinistry 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 organisations and other supportersthe Society of Wilderness

Changhua Environmental Protection Union

Wild at Heart

Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationArtistic 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

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
OtherOil 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-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening 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 as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.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

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

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

Media Links

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

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

Other Documents

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

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

Meta Information

ContributorTaiwan 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)