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Linyuan Industrial Park, Kaohsiung, Taiwan


Linyuan District used to be a town of Kaohsiung County, which is now part of Kaohsiung built up area which encompasses 10 cities (or districts) out of 18 in official Kaohsiung Metro Area. It is a seaside township near the estuary of the Kaoping River in southern Taiwan. Before the installment of a petrochemical zone in the 1970s, fishing and aquaculture was the main local livelihood. Industrialization brought about a grave subsistence crisis, as petrochemical plants recklessly extracted underground water and discharged their wastewater into the river and sea [1]. In November 1973, the proposal of “Ten Major Construction Projects” [2] including the construction of the Linyuan petrochemical industrial zone was announced at the fourth plenary session of the 10th Central Committee of Kuomintang.

The construction of the Linyuan Industrial Park was completed in February 1976 at a cost of NT$ 2 billion, with a designed area of 388 hectares which turned out to be 403 ha after completion. [3] There was one electrical plant and 18 petrochemical plants in the region, including the Naphtha Cracker No. 3 and No.4 of China Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and a combined sewage plant.

The Linyuan incident began with an accident that occurred in September 1988, at the Linyuan petrochemical complex in Kaohsiung County, centered on the Linyuan plant of CPC. Heavy rain caused contaminated water to leak from the reservoir tank at the water treatment plant. The direct cause of the incident was the reservoir tank’s insufficient capacity to handle wastewater. [4] As local fishermen found dead fish floating in their harbor (Shanwei fishing port), residents and eel farmers in seven villages near the complex started a self-relief movement in October demanding NT$2.4 billion in compensation. On October 11, some of them stormed into the industrial zone and forcibly shut down the power of the sewage treatment plant. As a result, eighteen companies in the industrial zones all halted their production. [1]

Since the Linyuan industrial zone was a key upstream provider, the conflict evolved into a severe crisis for Taiwan's petrochemical industry. Negotiations started between the residents and the central government’s Ministry of Economic Affairs with the mediation of the member of the Legislative Yuan (parliament) elected from the district, and the negotiations were brought to a successful conclusion on October 15 (for an overview of key conflict events, see Project Details). The eighteen enterprises operating in the complex agreed to pay a total of NT$1,305 million in compensation. This amount was the highest ever for such a case. [4]

During the three weeks of negotiation, economic officials constantly threatened to use police force to disperse the blockade. [1] At the same time, local fishermen who were eager to secure compensation angrily rejected the voluntary intervention of outside environmentalists. This unhappy confrontation resulted in a growing detachment of outside environmentalists from local pollution disputes. Without the participation of outside movement organizations, the localization of antipollution protests was reinforced. As a result, pollution disputes were largely settled by the tug of war between residents and producers. [5]

The Linyuan incident is a representative ex-post-facto movement aiming at gaining compensation for pollution caused by an accident. It was a very successful one from the standpoint of the local people concerned, considering the large amount of money paid in compensation, and also because the local residents received exemptions from responsibility for the illegal acts they committed. But since then, Linyuan people have also been criticized or decriminalized as green hooligans, mobs and greedy people by other Taiwan people including those from the government and the academia, deeming that they lost the legitimacy of the original environmental protection claims after getting the compensations. [6]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Linyuan Industrial Park, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
State or province:Taiwan
Location of conflict:Linyuan District, Kaohsiung City (used to be Linyuan Township, Kaohsiung 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
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Chemical products

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Important events during the conflict [6,7]:

On 1988.9.20, heavy rain for 3 consecutive days caused wastewater overflow in the combined sewage treatment plant, resulting in heavy losses in aquaculture industry.

On 1988.9.22, a large number of dead fish appeared in the sea and fishing port in the Shanwei area, and the oil in the fishing port filled the sea surface. The residents suspected that the wastewater treatment plant in the industrial area of Linyuan caused the outflow of waste water, which resulted in the large number of deaths of fish and shrimp in the downstream villages.

On 1988.9.23, 200 - 300 villagers in Shanwei area surrounded the management center of Linyuan Industrial Park. They asked representatives of the Industrial Park for a compensation of NT $1 billion as well as to prevented the spread of pollution.

On 1988.10.4, government, industrial zone, and local resident representatives met at the Industrial Bureau Management Center for consultation. Some fishermen claimed that 7,600 people in three Shanwei villages should be compensated for 300,000 NTD per person; after further coordination, the residents asked for 100,000 NTD per person. If granted, the villagers would agree to resume with the work in the sewage treatment plant.

On 1988.10.5, residents also found the Shanwei fishing port full of dead fishes. The day after, Zhongyun, Fengyun, Xizhou, and Xixi Village joined the protest, demanding the same amount of compensation as the three Shanwei villages did.

On 1988.10.11, the Kaohsiung county reopened the negotiations. 1,000 residents from seven villages protested outside the management center and sewage treatment plant, but no result was achieved.

On 1988.10.12, residents gathered in groups in the open space around the factory to monitor the discharge of waste water. As a result, every petrochemical plant in the Linyuan Industrial Zone discharged waste water, and the residents demanded that the petrochemical plants be completely shut down. The industrial zone held an emergency meeting of 18 manufacturers and decided to allocate 100 million NTD to the Kaohsiung county government for the coordination, but work must be resumed on the 13th.

On 1988.10.13, 500 people from seven villages (East Shan, West Shan, North Shan, Zhongyun, Fengyun, Xizhou, Xixi) negotiated with the head of the Industry Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs but without success. The next day, a large number of police stationed in the industrial area of Linyuan and the Minister of Economy, the Kaohsiung County Chief and the local representatives continued negotiations throughout the night.

On the evening of October 15, 1988, the government, the industrial zone and the residents reached a compensation agreement: each villager in the three villages of Shanwei was compensated 80,000 NTD, four villages, including Zhongyun, were paid 50,000 NTD per person, and other 12 villages received 10 million NTD in local construction subsidies. The total compensation was 1.27 billion NTD. Residents agreed to get 18 petrochemical plants back to work since 6pm.

On 1988.10.16, The 18 petrochemical plants in the Linyuan Industrial Zone have been resumed to operation one by one.

CPC Corporation Taiwan had several plants in the industrial park. No information on the other companies involved during that time could be found.

Project area:403
Level of Investment:NT $2 billion
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:several thousands
Start of the conflict:22/09/1988
End of the conflict:16/10/1988
Company names or state enterprises:CPC Corporation, Taiwan (CPC) from Taiwan - operator of industrial plants
Relevant government actors:Kaohsiung County Government, legislator, Ministry of economy

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Oil spills, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Noise pollution
Other Environmental impactsPoisoning impacts on fisheries
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Potential: Infectious diseases, Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactshigh incidences of cancer in the area
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Other socio-economic impactsReduced local social stability.
Reduction of manufactured products in petrochemical industry.
Negative impacts on the industry in the middle and lower reaches of the petrochemical industry chain.


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The local residents of the Linyuan incident received a total compensation of NT$ 1.3 billion. However, the pollution problem itself has not been completely solved. After the Linyuan incident, the local people are still fighting continually.

Sources & Materials

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


[5] Ho, M.S., 2014. Resisting Naphtha Crackers. A historical survey of environmental politics in Taiwan. China Perspectives, 2014(2014/3), pp.5-14.

公民社會下的環境運動:林園反三輕運動初探(The Environmental Movement in Civil Society: a preliminary study of the Anti-three Light Movement in Linyuan)

[1] Ho, M.S. and Su, F.S., 2008. Control by containment: the politics of institutionalizing pollution disputes in Taiwan. Environment and Planning A, 40(10), pp.2402-2418.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[6] 林園事件: 全國最大的一個污染糾紛事件(Linyuan event: one of the largest pollution disputes around the country)

[3] 林园事件(Linyuan event)

[2] Ten Major Construction Projects (Wikipedia)

[7]林園石化工業區污染及反公害運動 by Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan

Meta information

Contributor:EnvJustice, ICTA-UAB/ NWAFU master students
Last update25/09/2018



A report on the Linyuan event

Large numbers of fish died in Gaoping river, and local residents broke into theLinyuan Industrial Zone.

Dead fish

Toxic wastewater from petrochemical plants caused biological death in Gaoping river.


The crowd gathered in the streets to post banners against the surrounding pollution caused by the chemical plant.

Linyuan Industrial Zone


Dead fish

Toxic wastewater from petrochemical plants caused biological death in Gaoping river.

News report on the Linyuan event

Large numbers of fish died in Gaoping river, and local residents broke into theLinyuan Industrial Zone.

Linyuan Industrial Zone 3

Petrochemical facilities are dense, stretching all the way to the river.

Protest activities

The crowd gathered in the streets to post banners against the surrounding pollution caused by the chemical plant.

Linyuan Industrial Zone 2

The chimney billowed with smoke.

Linyuan Industrial Zone 1

The sky of Linyuan petrochemical plant is all gray and can not see the sky at all.