Kaohsiung WRB seeks owners of pipelines traversing culverts
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-11 02:53 PM
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu is getting tough with companies which have pipelines running through drainage culverts in the city. She has ordered petrochemical companies and other services which utilize underground lines to transport materials across the city to present full information on lines which intersect with the city’s system of storm drains, threatening to shut down any lines that are not reported within 24 hours and are subsequently discovered.

Chen ran into a bit of a setback on Sunday as she visited the city’s Disaster Response Center. An official in the city’s Water Resources Bureau (WRB) informed her that shutting down intruding pipelines around the city could take as long as two months.

Chen’s initial ultimatum came with the discovery last week of a drainage culvert running alongside Fengren Road which contained a total of 16 different pipelines, in a situation that could possibly lead to the same conditions that caused the explosions of July 31. Once word of the Fengren Road finding was out, the Kaohsiung City Government issued a press release from the WRB declaring that "All 16 of the pipeline operators must confirm the existence of their pipelines within 24 hours, otherwise the city will order the pipelines shut off immediately," with the deadline set for 2 pm Sunday afternoon.

Deputy Director Liao Che-min of the WRB visited the Fengren Road site to inspect the pipelines. While there he was asked what action the bureau would take if a pipeline owner does not come forward before the 24-hour deadline.

Liao was forced to admit that the deadline was largely a technical matter designed to press pipeline owners to respond quickly to the request for information. He added that if the WRB cannot take action unless it knows who laid the pipeline, whether or not it is carrying hazardous materials and where the nearest valves in either direction are located.

Liao said that Taipower, the water company and the military have confirmed that they have pipelines running through the site, but seven of the 16 pipelines in that particular location have yet to be identified. Tsai Chang-chan, director of the Engineering Department of the WRB, said Sunday that it might take at least two months to clear up the ownership and clean out the lines.

Tsai said the WRB is working with the Fire Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and other relevant agencies to check on the lines and take action to shut them down and drain any hazardous materials contained inside.

Tsai pointed out that Taipower, the water company and the army could be liable to fines ranging from NT$100,000 to 500,000 in accordance with the Water Act. He added that if the company or companies responsible for unidentified pipelines do not come forward voluntarily they could be subject to even harsher fines.

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