Kaohsiung Calls for Chemical Firms to Move

The Kaohsiung City Government has ordered petrochemical companies that use underground pipelines within its boundaries to relocate their headquarters to the city.

It said that if the companies refuse, they will be banned from using the pipelines, and described the change as needed to improve safety in the wake of pipeline explosions that killed more than 30 people last summer.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, denying that the order was intended simply to raise tax revenues, said the city wants closer communications between the city and the companies that operate the pipelines. According to the mayor, the explosions last august that devastated the port city revealed that central government’s Factory Management Act alone is insufficient in protecting the city. Thirteen companies operate 89 pipelines in Kaohsiung, but nearly all of them are headquartered in Taipei.

The central government has questioned the legality of Kaohsiung’s plan. The issue may go to the Cabinet for a decision, and possibly eventually to the constitutional court for a ruling.

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