Red Brick Daily Staff

According to a spokeswoman for the Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union, levels of nasty chemicals such as benzene, ethylbenzene and styrene in Xiaogang (Siaogang) have risen to as much as three times higher than levels in Yunlin County’s Daxi Township—which is the site of the country’s largest naphtha cracker complex.

A proposal to create the Xiaogang “Nansing Free-Trade Zone” on a 43-hectare plot of reclaimed land near the Port of Kaohsiung is being panned by Xiaogang residents who fear it will only bring more pollution.

The zone is slated to be filled with warehouses, parking spots for container trucks — and a token park.

Those living in the District’s Dalinpu and Fongbitou neighborhoods firmly oppose the project, arguing the new buildings will block winds from the southwest that blow through during summer months. The wind, say residents, is the only thing that briefly helps clean up the air.

Dozens of Xiaogang residents made the trip to Taipei recently to rally in front of the Parliament and EPA buildings to protest the free-trade zone plan.

Speaking to the Taipei Times, Fongsing Borough Warden Hung Fu-hsien said, “I don’t understand why the government wants to deprive us of a clean beach and build more factories in the area. Local residents have suffered from pollution for more than 40 years. We’ve been abandoned by the government in a place surrounded by 544 factories.”

The Xiaogang area is home to several large industrial operations including state-run oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan, China Steel Corp, Taiwan Power Co, shipbuilder CSBC Corp and, just to top things off, a couple of incinerators.

There are also more than 10 schools and over 10,000 students in the area.