Company faces fines for train breakdowns and delays

TAIPOWER, ANGRY CITIES:
Four people have been summoned for questioning after a power tower was hit by a silo that fell the wrong way as it was demolished in Kaohsiung

  • By Hsu Li-chuan and William Hetherington/staff reporter, with a staff writer and CNA

The utility company Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) and the city governments of Tainan and Kaohsiung pledged to seek compensation for a power outage caused on Friday when a cement company’s demolition project went wrong and the a transmission tower was knocked down.

The electric tower operated by Taipower collapsed at 3:40 p.m. when it was hit by a 52m-high storage silo that fell the wrong way while being demolished at the Kaohsiung plant of Southeast Cement Corp (東南水泥).

The resulting power outage temporarily halted services operated by Taiwan High Speed ​​Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) and Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) between Tainan and Kaohsiung’s Zuoying Station. Around 126,000 passengers were affected by the service disruptions.

Photo: ANC

The TRA and THSRC resumed operations at 9 p.m. and 10:40 p.m., respectively.

Taipower said more than 160 workers and more than 40 vehicles had been dispatched to repair the transmission tower and 69-kilovolt power line before train services could resume.

The electric utility said yesterday it would seek damages from Southeast Cement for Friday’s incident.

Photo courtesy of a member of the public via CNA

Kaohsiung authorities are to fine the company 6.07 million Taiwan dollars (US$211,461) for non-compliance with safety, health and environmental protection regulations and standards relating to construction works. demolition.

Calling the incident a “major violation”, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said yesterday that the city government would demand that the company suspend operations and take the matter to court.

The city conducted a site inspection, he added.

Photo: ANC

The company and its contractor had been fined for an incident last year when an excavator operator was crushed to death while digging a hole for an electric tower, Chen said, adding that Friday’s incident appeared to have happened because a work plan was not adhering to.

To ease traffic jams caused by the incident, Tainan set up an emergency response team to direct traffic near affected stations and evacuated 90 shuttles of people from stranded trains, Tainan Mayor Huang wrote. Wei-che (黃偉哲) on Facebook Friday night.

Tainan would demand compensation from Southeast Cement to pay for expenses and administrative costs incurred in dealing with the aftermath of the accident, he said.

Southeast Cement said yesterday it “deeply regrets” the incident, would not shirk responsibility and would await a damage assessment.

Prosecutors yesterday summoned four people for questioning: a Southeast Cement employee surnamed Tseng (曾), a crane operator surnamed Tseng (曾) and two subcontracted employees, one surnamed Wang (王) and one surnamed Lin (林).

Prosecutors said they were pursuing charges of public endangerment against the four.

Additional reporting by Chang Hui-wen

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