Rock removal to take two weeks

The force of the impact sent explosion of dirt flying into the air.

TAIPEI - The Keelung City Government said yesterday that it will adopt a non-explosive technique to remove a giant, 2,000-ton rock perched high on a hillside.

Holes will be drilled into the rock before a "silent static cracking technique" is used to break it into pieces and remove it.

The Keelung City Public Work Bureau (PWB) said that equipment will be moved up the hill today to allow work to begin on Wednesday. It will take approximately 12 working days to break the rock and clean up the surrounding area.

Torrential rains wreaked havoc on several parts of Taiwan over the weekend. On Saturday in an area near the Bisha Fishing Port in Keelung, landslides demolished a house that was situated at the foot of a hill. In another incident in the same area, a huge boulder rolled down a mountainside and hit a passing car. None of the passengers were injured.

The 2,000-ton rock is currently perched on the same Keelung hill.

The PWB said it dispatched officials and invited domestic geological experts and military engineers to assess potential rock-cracking methods yesterday.

According to the Keelung City Government, the rock is approximately 8 by 10 meters wide, 10 meters high and weighs around 2,000 tons.

Lee Tong-cheng, director-general of the PWB, said that following a meeting with experts from various fields yesterday, the Keelung government has decided to adopt the "silent static cracking method."

The technique involves drilling holes into the rock and filling them with a powder composition that will expand, fracturing and splitting the rock. Lee told The China Post that this process will not use explosive components.

Given the steepness of the hillside, it will take approximately two days to transport the drilling machine and tools to the top of the hill. Lee added that once the equipment arrives on the site, work will begin as soon as possible.

Military Argues Against Using Explosives

Keelung officials on Sunday told local press that it had earlier requested the Army remove the rock using explosives. Army engineers yesterday morning told local press that they had rejected the request.

The 53rd engineer corps under the 6th Army Corps yesterday went to the site to assess the possibility of setting off explosives in the rock and then removing the resulting pieces from the hill. The Army engineer corps was later quoted by the United Evening News as saying that it is difficult to estimate the effects of an explosion on the surrounding geology of the site.

Army engineers said it is not difficult to use explosives to move the rock and make it roll down the hill on a predicted course. The difficulty is anticipating the resulting effect to the hill.

The corps further explained that as heavy rain swept across the area over the weekend, the hill's soil contains a lot of water. Therefore, it is hard to estimate the influence of potential explosive seismic waves on the area.

Ruifeng to Build Rock Shed

On Sunday in New Taipei's Ruifeng Township, two people were injured when their car was hit by rockfall on a section of Provincial Highway No. 2.

In light of the incident, the Directorate General of Highways yesterday said it plans to build a rock shed - a protective structure to prevent rock falls - on Provincial Highway No. 2 at the 82-km mark.

Keelung City Denies Speculation

Keelung City Mayor Chang Tong-jong yesterday said he did not ask those residents of a household that was devastated by a landslide on Saturday to pay for the demolition of their home.

The household in Keelung was toppled onto its side by the landslide on Saturday. The city government on Sunday dispatched officials to dismantle and level the building. Local press reported that the Keelung City Government requested the household members pay for the demolition.