ASE denies wastewater wrongdoing

DILUTING THE TRUTH?:Officials said the company tried to deceive them by adding tap water to its wastewater storage pool before samples were to be taken for testing

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Sat, Dec 14, 2013 - Page 13

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光半導體) yesterday said it had not fabricated wastewater test results and had not installed any covered sewer systems to discharge untreated wastewater into the ocean.

The remarks came after three managers with the Greater Kao-hsiung-based company were brought in for questioning by authorities yesterday as calls for tougher sanctions against the company continued to grow louder.

Su Ping-shou (蘇炳碩), director of ASE’s K7 plant, from which untreated industrial wastewater was found to have been discharged, was detained by prosecutors yesterday, while one official was released on bail of NT$1 million (US$33,800) after questioning.

Meanwhile, a prosecutor and officials with the Greater Kaohsiung’s Environmental Protection Bureau yesterday found pipelines under the K7 site that may have been used to discharge the wastewater.

An environmental inspector said the discovery added to the possibility that the plant bypassed authorized discharge pipes altogether.

The K7 plant’s management has already been accused of falsifying discharge data related to pH value, chemical oxygen demand and suspended solids in an attempt to evade punishment.

The city’s environmental agency has said the plant also attempted to deceive officials by running tap water into its wastewater storage pool before samples were to be taken for regular testing.

ASE, the world’s biggest chip packager, said in a statement that the pH value of 4.14 found in its own tests at the K7 plant, was in accordance with the regulated figure, so it did not have to fake the number.

The value was different from the 2.84 tested by the local environment protection agency, which ASE said was because the firm conducted its tests on Oct. 1 at a different time from when the toxic wastewater leaked out, the statement said.

ASE spokesman Richard Chang (張洪本) also said in the statement that the company did not conceal any illegal behavior, as the pipelines at another factory, K11, in Greater Kaohsiung, were not designed to release wastewater directly into the sea before treatment, as officials from the environment protection agency had said.

Greater Kaohsiung officials, who examined ASE’s wastewater treatment sewage system yesterday, said they suspected that ASE has been illegally discharging untreated wastewater via the concealed pipes as the pipes are not shown in the K11 factory layout.

“We have obtained approval for the use of the wastewater system that is pumped out into the sea,” Chang said.

“The pipes [found by the environmental officials] are only connected to a bigger wastewater system, rather than directly dumped into the ocean,” he added.

In the legislature yesterday, lawmakers across party lines called for stiffer penalties on companies that break the law.

Under the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法), a company can be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$600,000 for an offense and ordered to rectify the problem before a specified deadline or face multiple fines or a shutdown of its operations.