Tainan revokes plant permit amid controversy
Central News Agency
2014-04-18 10:14 PM
Taipei, April 18 (CNA) The Tainan government on Friday revoked a building permit given to a pesticide manufacturer to put up a new factory in the metropolitan area following a clash between the company and local residents. Tainan authorities said in a statement that Rotam Global AgroSciences Ltd.'s permit to build a plant in Sinhua District was revoked because of violations of building regulations and to protect public safety.

The city appealed for calm and dialogue and expressed the hope that Rotam could communicate sincerely with Sinhua residents and anyone else connected to the project. Rotam produces insecticides, fungicides and herbicides as well as plant growth regulators and nutrients.

Company Chairman Lo Chang-keng, a Tainan native, said he is hoping to bring 800 job opportunities and a factory with NT$10 billion in annual output to his hometown through the project. Sinhua residents are opposed to the plant, however, because they fear that the plant's pesticide production will pollute their environment.

The fear was prompted by speculation on the Internet that China did not welcome Rotam's project because of pollution problems at its existing factories there, leading Rotam to return to Taiwan to invest. On April 1, over 100 residents stormed the plant's groundbreaking ceremony, vowing not to allow the plant to open, and they clashed with police and security guards.

The Tainan government said Friday that it is dedicated to creating a good investment environment and welcomes enterprises to invest in the city, but added that it will not pursue economic development at the expense of the environment and public health. Sinhua residents were not appeased by the city government's words and action, and instead launched a signature drive to demand that the investment project be dropped. Hsu Ming-yang, a representative of the Sinhua community development association, said the residents feel that revoking the building permit is inadequate because Rotam could apply again to build the plant at any time. Environmental groups mobilized supporters of the signature drive in the evening to fight the investment project. Wearing headbands that read "Safeguard Sinhua," "Safeguard our future," and "Say no to Rotam," the residents, including many high school students, voiced their opposition to their neighborhood being polluted. Rotam's Lo said the company will not take any further action on the plant until it had fully explained the project to the public. He said his failure to present his plans in detail at the groundbreaking ceremony had resulted in misunderstandings and even defamation on the Internet and in the media. He denied that the company was out of favor in China because of pollution issues, calling the Internet reports "rumors," and said Rotam was recognized as a green and high-tech company in Kunshan and was given a 15 percent tax break as a new high-tech enterprises (By Chang Jung-hsiang and Lilian Wu)

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