Taiwan mayors mobilise to carry out pipeline inspections

Taiwan mayors mobilise to carry out pipeline inspections
A general view shows the damaged road after the gas explosions in southern kaohsiung on August 1, 2014.

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan - Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin, New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu and Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te yesterday made individual statements and announcements with the aim of conducting inspections on underground pipelines in the wake of the devastating accident in Kaohsiung. In Taipei, Hau held an emergency response meeting, whereby the mayor ordered the immediate establishment of a joint-inspection task force to conduct examinations on all gas pipes in the city.

Deputy Mayor Chen Hsiung-wen personally lead an inspection yesterday, stating that the city government has requested that four natural gas companies perform a full-scale security check-up within a week. As the city does not have pipelines that exist to transport industrial and chemical substances, the possibility of massive ethylene and propene explosions does not exist.

However, Chen said, Taipei does have natural gas lines that are filled with mostly methane, but the gas will most likely be detected early and not accumulate in the pipes, which would potentially lead to disastrous consequences. The city government will also host a large-scale drill tailored toward gas-related disasters, the deputy mayor said.

New Taipei Mayor Chu stated in multiple press appearances yesterday that related departments in New Taipei City have been ordered to conduct city-wide pipeline inspections for the sake of disaster prevention.

The mayor also stated that the incident is a national disaster, and that in respect, the 2014 Taipei Sanchong Fireworks Festival will be cancelled so that all city government personnel could aid in emergency relief efforts in Kaohsiung. Mayor Hau has also stated that the 2014 Taipei Dadaocheng Fireworks Festival has been cancelled.

Hu and Lai to Aid with Relief

Hu stated yesterday that he has requested a thorough inspection on all pipelines in Taichung, especially oil and electricity lines, so as to prevent any accidents similar to the Kaohsiung incident from ever happening in Taichung.

According to the Economic Development Bureau of Taichung City, 150 kilometers of the city's entire 5,390 kilometers of natural gas pipeline has been replaced in the last two years. The pipelines of the city are made from polyethylene material which has a recorded 40 years' durability, and are dominated by three natural gas companies with no negative records in recent years, said the bureau.

Director Wu Shih-wei of the Taichung City Construction Bureau assured Taichung citizens that the preliminary hypothesis as to the cause of the accident is likely due to propene used by companies of the petrochemical industry. As Taichung does not have pipes for such purposes, the city can rest assured that such accidents would not happen.

Tainan Mayor Lai has stated that he had immediately contacted the Kaohsiung mayor to aid in disaster relief, hoping to begin relief efforts in the critical first 72 hours.

Reportedly, Tainan has thus far mobilized 22 emergency vehicles with at least 45 emergency personnel to aid in relief efforts. Tainan has also activated its medical protocol to provide Kaohsiung with sufficient medical support.

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