16 May 2012

Pollutive petrochemical plant may be relocated near our Northern shores

A petrochemical complex that was rejected in Taiwan for environmental and health reasons may be relocated to Pengerang, Johor.
Rich shores in the vicinity include Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin, Singapore's best natural mangroves on Pulau Tekong, our best northern submerged reef Beting Bronok and Changi's seagrass meadows.

If the relocation goes ahead, it will be part of the massive oil hub project planned in Johor which includes the RM5bil Dialog independent deepwater terminal and the RM120bil Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) petrochemicals complex.

According to Taiwanese media, "Kuokuang had planned to build a naphtha cracking and petrochemical complex in coastal wetlands in central Taiwan's Changhua County. The project was scrapped, however, after some local residents and environmental impact assessment teams raised concerns that it would consume too much water and generate high levels of pollution in the ecologically sensitive area. Taipei industry executives have agreed to focus on producing high-quality petrochemicals at home and other petrochemical intermediaries abroad."

According to Lim Sue Goan in Malaysian media: "The Kuokuang petrochemical investment was accused of high water consumption, consuming about 400,000 tons per day, which would dry the largest wetlands of Taiwan and threaten food safety. In addition, it was estimated that 339 to 565 people would die of cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer, while patients of respiratory diseases would also increase due to the PM2.5 pollutants released into the air. The project could create 20,000 job opportunities, but it was estimated to cost more than NT$100 billion of social cost yearly."

The decision to relocate the Kuokuang petrochemical complex to Johor is still pending. “We are evaluating the feasibility of the proposed investment” said the Taiwanese petrochemical company. The company may make a decision by the middle of next year.

The Sultan of Johor has already expressed his disappointment with a group of people who had objected to the development of the Refinery and Petro-chemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project here. “They instigate the people of Pengerang to protest and to make demands,” he said. “Rapid will make Johor the most developed state in the country and an important trading and investment destination in Asia. This will ensure jobs and better income for the young people,” he said when launching the Petronas refinery and petrochemical integrated project.

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