MOEA to map pipelines
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-02 04:36 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In the wake of the pipeline explosions in Kaohsiung, the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced Saturday it wanted to track down and map the pipelines in the area in cooperation with the local government.

At least 27 people were killed and more than 280 injured as explosions believed to be caused by propene leaks from underground pipelines rocked several streets around midnight Thursday night.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu called on the central government to make known all the locations of potentially hazardous pipelines in other to allay public fears.

Deputy Economics Minister Woody Duh said that beginning Monday, the MOEA and the local government would set up a joint platform to start the work of listing all pipelines. Media reports estimated that a total of 4,000 kilometers of lines laid buried under streets and buildings across the country. The procedure would start from Kaohsiung, but if other local governments were interested, the MOEA platform would expand its activities nationwide.

In the first phase, an inventory would be drawn up listing all the pipelines, their location, ownership, content and a record of their maintenance, Duh said. In the second phase, the MOEA taskforce would discuss with the Kaohsiung City Government how to conduct the maintenance of the pipelines. The repair or removal of hazardous lines would also be discussed, according to the deputy minister.

Local labor inspections, environmental services, fire departments and public work services would cooperate with the central authorities and with experts, Duh said. Their task would be to gather relevant data as a base for later decision-making on the fate of pipelines and the needed maintenance procedures, he said.

The deputy minister said that at present the MOEA only possessed the information about state-owned enterprises such as CPC Corporation, Taiwan. Other companies needed to file applications with local governments, but not with the MOEA, before taking action to lay pipelines, according to Duh.

Any eventual punitive measures were also up to the local authorities, as were the task of investigating the explosion and announcing conclusions, the deputy minister said.

If the pipelines under downtown Kaohsiung were all shut off, up to seven petrochemical plants might have to cease operations, reports said.

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