Sixty people, including police and reporters, were injured at a protest outside the Changhua County Hall yesterday.

Thousands of employees at Formosa Chemicals and Fiber Corp (台化) as well as their families gathered outside the government offices to plead the government to reissue operating permits for the Formosa Chemicals factory in central Taiwan.

Clashes between protesters and police occurred after some protesters tried to break through a police cordon. According to the Chinese-language Apple Daily, 10 people were hospitalized after the clash. As many as 50 others sustained minor bruises in the altercation.

Without the permits, Formosa Chemicals will have to close its nylon and rayon manufacturing plants, and more than 1,000 of its employees will lose their jobs.

The operating permits for the factory’s three coal-burning power generators expired on Sept. 28, and Formosa Chemicals has been trying to renew its permits since March. Its applications were denied 34 times by the Changhua County government, ET Today reports. Formosa Chemical employees have been protesting since Oct. 3.

The Changhua County Environmental Protection Bureau said the permits were not reissued because the plant’s power generators did not meet the standards specified by the “Stationary Pollution Source Installation and Operating Permit Management Regulations,” state-run CNA reports.

Changhua County Commissioner Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷) said on Thursday that while he is sympathetic to the’ plight of the employees, the factory “had no reason to remain in operation in Changhua.”

Nevertheless, Wei said the county government would not be able to “take on large conglomerates” and would follow orders from the central government to provide the necessary resources to help Formosa Chemicals renew its operating permit.

On Sept. 18, a local activist group called Air Clean Taiwan organized more than 4,000 people to protest the factory’s operations.

The group has also called for Wei to stand his ground and not give in to corporate pressure during talks with the Environmental Protection Bureau today, CNA reports.

A poll released on Sept. 24 by the Changhua County Government found that 65 percent of the 1,108 Changhua residents polled supported shutting the factory.

Formosa Chemicals and Fiber Corp is owned by the Formosa Plastics Group, and has been operating in Changhua since 1965.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole