Taiwan News: CPC Scolded for Leak, Power Consumption Breaks July Record

Taiwan News: CPC Scolded for Leak, Power Consumption Breaks July Record
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG

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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) is demanding CPC Corp., Taiwan's state-owned refiner, take action after reports surfaced that over 60 cubic meters of gasoline leaked from from an oil tank at the Huxi Oil Depot on Penghu - polluting about a hectare of land.

According to Chen, CPC has been instructed to submit a review about the leak within a week and name the two employees who were disciplined over the incident.

The minister said the company has also been asked to review all operational processes and introduce intelligent measurement control systems, to replace the manual measurement of oil.

The oil leak at the depot in Penghu occurred in June last year.

However, the depot director and manager failed to report the matter and CPC said earlier this week that it was unaware of the leak until May of this year.

The Environmental Protection Administration said it found the total amount of petroleum hydrocarbon in groundwater near the affected to be over three-times the acceptable limit.

The state-refiner has been fined NT$6 million (US$195,000) for violating the Water Pollution Control Act.

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Taiwan Power Co., the state power producer, has said high temperatures pushed peak electricity consumption across the island to an all-time high for July on Thursday -- when usage levels reached 36.705 gigawatts.

The record high usage for the month was reported at 1:50 p.m.

Taipower said it surpassed the previous highest for July of 36.46 GW, which was set on Wednesday of this week.

Thursday's usage level was the third-highest daily consumption ever recorded, though the company maintained its reserve margin between power availability and power demand above the 6 percent minimum requirement.

According to Taipower deputy superintendent for central coordination, Cheng Yu-tsai (鄭有財), heat accumulated from continued days of high temperature has driven up electricity consumption islandwide.

However, Cheng say the possibility of rain today and tomorrow plus the decline in electricity usage at weekends, mean peak electricity consumption could drop to 36.4-million kilowatts.

July and August are traditionally peak periods for electricity usage in part due to increased use of air conditioning units.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Taiwanese domestically-built Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF) also known as the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo) perform in formation during a ceremony commemorating the 25th anniversary of Taiwan's IDF at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taichung, Taiwan July 14, 2017. REUTERS

Defense ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) has said while the military upholds the principle of freedom of navigation it is still monitoring all foreign shipping sailing through, and aircraft flying over, the Taiwan Strait.

The statement comes amid reports that a U.S. air carrier group could transit through the strait sometime in the coming months. U.S. officials are refusing to confirm or deny that report.

But the defense ministry spokesman said Taiwan is very careful about the practice of freedom of navigation and is always fully aware of any vessels or aircraft approaching Taiwan's territorial waters or air defense identification zone.

Foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said while the government fully supports the freedom of navigation, recent actions by Chinese military aircraft and vessels have escalated tensions in the region, triggering concern from other countries.

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The United States assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs has said Taiwan is a partner in the promotion of freedom in the Indo-Pacific region and can make valuable contributions.

Speaking at a seminar at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Randall Schriver said the Trump's administration has laid out a free and open Indo-Pacific strategy that is not anti-anybody, but a positive strategy to promote international law.

According to Schriver, the strategy aims to free countries in the region from pressure and coercion from a defense perspective and the U.S. wants leaders of its partners to have the confidence to make decisions without undue pressure.

“Beijing is taking a path that is not as constructive as the path of dialogue. So this is of concern to us,” Schriver is reported to have said, adding that the US has the right to transit through and conduct operations in the Taiwan Strait.

The U.S. official went on to say that Washington believes Taiwan is a partner in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific and can make valuable contributions, while also reaffirming the US commitment to selling Taiwan arms as required by law under the Taiwan Relations Act.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) was in the audience at the event.

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Photo Credit: Democratic Cities: Interview with Audrey Tang 影片截圖
Taiwan's Minister without Portfolio, Audrey Tang.

The government is set to hold a new round of discussions next week on a proposal to digitize National Health Insurance (NHI) information in order to cut down on the need to use a physical plastic card.

According to Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳), the idea is for the public to have their medical information stored on their cellphones or other devices, and that they would become familiar with the change in the manner that the wider populace has become au fait with new technologies like augmented reality through games such as Pokemon Go.

Tang said previous talks saw government officials seeking opinions from some 30 people of various ages and from different parts of Taiwan as well employees at major hospitals and small clinics.

She also said the plan is not to make a digital transition compulsory for all NHI members but simply to offer such a service to those who want to use it.

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Three of Taiwan's minor political parties have announced an alliance ahead of November's local elections.

The Green Party Taiwan, the Social Welfare State Front and Taiwan Radical Wings Party said the aim of the alliance is to win seats in city council elections in Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Tainan and Kaohsiung.

The alliance is seeking to run candidates in at least 24 constituencies across the five cities.

And party members said they will form a single party caucus if they win enough seats in the Nov. 24 elections.

According to the alliance, the three parties will have a shared platform for the election - and that includes improving transportation, public housing and childcare as well as creating special subsidies for start-ups.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Passengers and legates get stuck at the check-in counter in dark during a partial power failure after heavy rains caused flooding at Taoyuan International Airport, June 2, 2016.

Reports suggest plans for a third terminal at Taoyuan International Airport have taken a major set-back after a tender for the project failed to generate enough bidders.

That could mean completion of the terminal may now be delayed until after 2022.

The Taoyuan International Airport Corporation had initially hoped to have completed work on the third terminal by 2020.

No more than three companies put in bids for the terminal -- far fewer than the corporation had predicted.

The bidding process for the tender will now have to begin again, and the airport corporation has yet to put a timeline on when that could be.

The government has been busy touting the third terminal, saying it will enable the airport to handle 20-million more passengers a year.

Taoyuan Airport handled 44.9 million passengers in 2017, according to its own figures, making it the world's 10th busiest airport by passenger traffic, according to Airports Council International. Heathrow Airport, the world's busiest, handled about 78 million passengers last year.

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North Korea has opened an official tourism promotion center in Taipei.

The center is a joint venture between a North Korean government-sponsored travel agency and the Taipei-based Chung Hsing Travel Service.

The tourism promotion center said it is now offering two tour group packages to North Korea and travelers can book the trips directly from the new office.

According to an executive of the center, all the destinations included in the two tour group packages are scenic spots authorized by North Korea's tourism bureau to target foreign visitors.

Fewer than 1,000 Taiwanese tourists visit North Korea annually.

There are no direct flights between Taiwan and Pyongyang and travelers have to transfer in China.

But the tourism promotion center said efforts are being be made to launch direct charter flights and private flights will be laid on to serve high-end customers.

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The Central Weather Bureau said Tropical Storm Ampil will bring rain to much of the north and east this weekend, as the storm passes north of Taiwan heading into the East China Sea and towards Shanghai.

Forecasters said the peripheral effects of the storm are likely to result in heavy rain in some areas of the island if Ampil continues to gain in strength and if it drifts further south the storm will have a greater impact on northern parts of the island.

Ampil is currently located some 800-km east of Taiwan and moving in a north-north-westerly direction at 17-km an hour.

The storm has a radius of 150-km and is packing sustained wind speeds of 90-km an hour, with gusts of up to 118-km an hour.

According to the weather bureau, Ampil is not likely to make landfall here in Taiwan, but it is now monitoring another a large low-pressure system over the Philippine Sea and says that could develop into a storm in the coming days.

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This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.