Bayer AG of Leverkusen, Germany, has suspended a planned $1.5 billion project in central Taiwan after failing to round up grassroots support for a toluene diisocyanate plant in the Taichung harbor area.
For months, the firm has fought local environmentalists who opposed what would have been the single-largest foreign direct investment in Taiwan, due to fears that TDI — a raw material used to produce polyurethane — emits pollutants that cause respiratory diseases. The process also uses phosgene, a cancer-causing agent.
Bayer, after having spent more than $10 million for detailed studies, reassured Taiwan that the proposed plant would set the highest safety and environmental standards in the world.
Bayer now is likely to build the 220.5 million-pound-per-year plant in Baytown, Texas, sources said. While Bayer Taiwan Chairman Horst Muck said Bayer still is open to locating its plant elsewhere in Taiwan, nationwide opposition makes the option remote.
Since the project's inception three years ago, Taiwan's central government has thrown its full support behind Bayer.
However, opposition member and newly elected Taichung County chief Liao Yung-lai, who ran on an anti-Bayer platform, has called for a referendum on the project.