An Open Letter from Taiwan Civil Society to the Formosa Plastics Group
On 19 May 2010 as civic groups in Taiwan present the ethecon 2009 Black Planet Award to the Formosa Plastics Group we collectively appeal to that enterprise to use its money in a manner that promotes dignity and a sense of responsibility.
We deliver this award to the Formosa Plastics Group for the reasons set out in this open letter in order that your true nature can be seen by all sectors of society.
1. Profits Before Human Rights; Profits Before Democracy
In 1989 the People’s Liberation Army bloodily suppressed a student movement in Tian An Men Square in what has come to be known as the Tian An Men Massacre. While the world gasped at the atrocities committed by the Chinese government and all foreign commerce and investment came to a halt, your enterprise, the Formosa Plastics Group became the first major company to invest in China without any thought or concern for the severe human rights abuses of your host. You displayed absolute disregard for democratic principles and indeed you profit from the butcher’s of Beijing.
2. “Formosa Plastics: We Make the Earth Miserable”
As the worlds largest producer of PVC you have spread your products around the world by giving producers of plastic piping, flooring, medial products, toys, shoes, stationary products and all other manner of goods, the means to befoul the health of present and future generations. The dangers of PVC throughout its life cycle are well established, including the fact that the production and disposal sites all contain high concentrations of dioxin and are sources for endocrine disruptors and environmental hormones causing sex changes in men and increases in the incidence of breast cancer in women. Yet despite the international consensus, Formosa Plastics, your attention has only one target and one goal – make as much money as possible with as little attention and expenditure on the social and natural environments.
3. You Have Wrung Taiwan’s Largest River Dry
Even with your vast wealth and power you have forced the government to build the Jiji Wier and a special pipeline so that you can extract 345,000 tonnes of water a day; your pipes that run through farmers’ fields and take their water leave them with no choice but to pump from the aquifers resulting in our country’s worst land subsidence and condemning the area to becoming a barren desert of dust storms.
4. You Blacken the Skies and the People’s Lungs
In June 2009 Public Health Professor Chan Chang-chuan of National Taiwan University reported a “significant correlation” between your Sixth Naphtha Cracker Plant in Yunlin County and cancer rates among residents in the nearby townships of Mailiao, Taisi, Dongshih, Lunbei and Sihhu.
While you may sneer at academics, you can not deny that beginning with the discharge of VOCs from this plant in 1999 the incidence of liver cancer in Taisi Township has increased thirty percent and over-all cancer incidence increased eighty percent. In order to avoid the stench from your toxic discharge, school children must plug their noses and cover their mouths with facemasks. You blacken the skies and blacken the viscera of all who live within reach of your effluents.
5. You Disregard Global Warming as You Produce Even More Emissions
Through its fourth phase, the Sixth Naphtha Cracker Plant (6th NCP), along with your neighboring power plant (the world’s fifth largest CO2 polluting power plant) produce sixty eight million tonnes of CO2 annually, one quarter of Taiwan’s CO2 emissions. But you aren’t satisfied with this achievement, as you go forward with plans for the fifth phase of the 6th NCP ignoring the crisis facing humanity and your contribution to climate chaos.
6. Your Legacy of Polluting Water and Soil will go on for Millennia
In April 2002 vinyl chloride levels in the groundwater at your plant in the Lin Yuan Industrial Park outside of Kaohsiung City in southern Taiwan were in excess of standards resulting in the declaration of a 32 hectare plant as a “control site”; in March 2007 10.8 hectares of your Cianjheng plant was cited as a soil pollution control site due to excessive levels of zinc and mercury contamination.
Then in March 2010 the news broke out of one of the worst groundwater pollution cases in Taiwan’s history: – the groundwater beneath the VCM plant producing PVC your Renwu Plant tested for levels of 1,2-dichloroethane at 302,000 (three hundred and two thousand) times the legal limit, ten other toxic substances were far in excess of the standards, and the 35.38 hectares had already been declared as a “remediation site”. You were aware in 2002 of the problem, but engaged in a cover up for eight years threatening the health of all inhabitants in the area as well as the 1,390 hectares of farmland in the plant’s vicinity.
7. The Ten Thousand Year Legacy of Your Industrial Waste
In 1998 with blatant disregard for the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal your company surreptitiously shipped 2,799 tonnes of mercury contaminated waste to Kampuchea killing at least one worker who was exposed, and resulting in evacuations of thousands of others bringing the entire nation of Taiwan into international disrepute; in early 1999 another 8,700 tonnes of mercury-laden hazardous waste was discovered in the township of Liyushan in Pingtung, southern Taiwan and while all the evidence pointed to your culpability, in the end you collected a stipend from the government in the amount of 90 million dollars (about 3 million US dollars). The lunatics are indeed running the asylum!
8. You Are Liars and Cheats
In order to win the support from the people of Yunlin County, for your offshore petrochemical park-currently the site of the 6th NCP, you promised to build a medical center, a retirement area, shopping centers, nursing school, transportation center, a seaside resort, the Chang Geng Memorial Hospital and a whole new Mailiao City. You promised to bring 37,500 employment opportunities to the area. These promises have all ended up as bounced checks. How are you any different from a gang of con artists?
To the Black Hearted Formosa Plastics Group: Where is your conscience?
You have enjoyed to the maximum the support and subsidization by the Taiwan government while the legislature does what it needs to support you. Yet, you have nothing to show as far as giving back to either the land or the people of Taiwan. Your voracious appetite for growth continues to escalate unabated, externalizing the social and environmental costs while engaging in a protracted war on transparency and truth, a campaign of lies and deceit, corrupting society into one that asks only about profit, one that never questions values. Formosa Plastics, you have truly arrived at the pinnacle of avarice and evil, taking your place as the leader among the blackest of the black hearted Taiwanese industrialists.
Your vast wealth comes from fossil fuels, but even if you were to spit out the entire amount of money that you have made from this exploitation, it would constitute but a tiny fraction of the cost of restoring the skies, the rivers, the ocean and the land.
As you scramble over the estate of the deceased Y.C. Wang, we hope you will at least give some consideration to the environmental debts that your company has incurred to the Earth and its inhabitants during Y.C. Wang’s lifetime.
This open letter is addressed to Formosa Plastics, but it is also an appeal to the government of Taiwan to remove the cangue of misery that it has been working, through its laws and dispensations, tailor made at Formosa Plastics behest, ruining the lives of untold numbers of our current and future generations.
And to Formosa Plastics, we conclude with a bitter plea that you reflect on your behaviour, put aside your weapons of slaughter, and stop your pillaging of Taiwan at once, and for all.