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Kaohsiung slaps provisional seizure on LCY assets
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-06 05:37 PM
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu announced Wednesday that personnel from the city’s Bureau of Legal Affairs and the Fire Department would go to municipal court in the afternoon to file a provisional property seizure against LCY Chemical Corporation, the company which city officials are eyeing as the main suspect in the explosions that ripped through a residential area of the city last Thursday. Mayor Chen said the move is being made to ensure that when family members of Fire Department personnel lost in the blasts as well as members of the public who perished or were injured will not find that LCY has concealed some of its assets in order to avoid having them seized in future court actions.

The Kaohsiung City Government also sought to clear up some of the confusion over who is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the pipelines that carry petrochemical products under city streets between various refineries and producers in the Kaohsiung area. A spokesperson for the city government said that the petrochemical pipelines are the responsibility of the Ministry of Economics. The spokesperson said that once a pipeline is buried the only responsibility the city bears is to notify the pipeline owner and gain approval when digging in areas near pipelines. The city is also obligated to refill any excavations and ensure that the finished surface is flat and stable.

Government spokesman Ting Yun-kung quoted from the city’s "Regulations Governing Road Excavation Management and Autonomy," saying that the law "in fact clearly identifies the competent authority." The city’s Public Works Bureau claims that the city’s responsibility in road excavation management is solely to ensure the quality and maintenance of safe public roads.

Articles 37 to 40 specify that, among other things, "if improper backfilling following excavation work causes a road to collapse, crack or loosen, leading to unevenness, subsidence or deformation in the road surface, the competent authority may order the owner of the buried pipeline to effect repairs within a specified deadline." Furthermore, "If the company which laid down and owns the pipeline infringes on the rights of others or causes damage to the state because it is remiss in management or maintenance of the pipeline, it shall be liable for its actions in accordance with applicable laws."

This shows that the responsibilities of the city cover monitoring of the quality of road excavation and backfill operations, and not management and maintenance of pipelines.

Deputy Kaohsiung Mayor Liu Shih-fang told an interviewer that city records show that the pipeline suspected of being involved in the explosion was originally laid down by China Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to transport oil. Later it was handed over to LCY to transmit propylene. Liu stressed that regardless of whether the pipeline was being used to transport oil or propylene, it fell under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Economics.

Liu added that according to the Petroleum Management Act, CPC should have applied to the Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs for a construction permit to lay down the pipeline. In 1990 CPC sold the pipeline to LYC, which switched to transmitting propylene, which is not considered a petroleum product. The relevant authority would then be the Bureau of Energy, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Economics. Liu said this means that regardless of whether propylene is a petroleum product or a by-product, the approving authority would still be the Ministry of Economics.

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