Kaohsiung WRB officials say ‘unaware of’ or forgot culvert details
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-10 02:02 PM

Investigators pursuing an enquiry into the July 31 blasts in Kaohsiung have determined that Liao Che-min, deputy director of the Water Resources Bureau (WRB) of the Kaohsiung City Government, was in charge of a meeting to discuss plans for construction of box culverts in the area where the explosions occurred. Liao continued to claim that he was unclear about details concerning the culverts as prosecutors took turns questioning the deputy director Friday in an attempt to break down suspected resistance.

Prosecutors disclosed that even after a marathon session that lasted from 2:00 in the afternoon to 8:30 at night Liao maintained an attitude they termed "neither admitting nor denying," acknowledging nothing beyond evidence presented by the questioners.

Accountability in the explosions has swung gradually toward construction methods that allowed transmission lines for petroleum and chemical products to be laid inside box culverts designed to carry rainwater and other effluents in the residential area where the blasts occurred. Prosecutors have collected evidence supplied by the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) which indicates that in October 1991 TRA informed the Kaohsiung Public Works Bureau (PWB) of the presence of transmission lines in the area in a meeting prior to construction planning for drainage systems in the area

Prosecutors said minutes of the meeting documents clearly show that participants were made aware of three petrochemical pipelines near the construction area. They said that Liao was chief of the design division in the Chief Division of the WRB at the time and was the leader of several planning meetings, thus there is “no way he could not have known” details such as the presence of transmission lines for petrochemicals.

Prosecutors summoned Liao and culvert construction contractor Chao Chien-chiao (now director of the Maintenance Office of the PWB) and others. The said each of the men interviewed was evasive, claiming it had been too long and they "forgot" details of the meetings.

Prosecutors finally showed Liao records of the meetings and said Liao acknowledged some of the information "piece by piece," admitting that he was in charge of the meeting but was not aware of all the details. When prosecutors showed documents from on-site surveys, he responded with comments like, "It seems that way, " continuing to admit knowledge only when confronted with evidence as prosecutors grew increasingly dissatisfied with his responses.

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