A plant of Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光半導體) was ordered to shut down yesterday by the Greater Kaohsiung Government’s Environmental Protection Bureau for multiple violations of regulations and discharging toxic wastewater into the nearby Houjin River (後勁溪).
The shutdown will take effect immediately after the K7 plant receives the order via registered mail and will last until ASE produces a comprehensive plan for improvement, bureau officials said.
The order came a day after the world’s largest provider of integrated-circuit packaging and testing services submitted a plan on Thursday afternoon for rectifying the pollution problems at the plant, which is one of more than a dozen operated by ASE in Greater Kaohsiung’s Nanzih District (楠梓).
The plant’s illegal discharge of highly acidic wastewater containing nickel and other substances was first revealed by the bureau on Monday last week. It then gave the company 10 days to submit a report on dealing with the problems for review.
Environmental Protection Bureau Director-General Chen Chin-der (陳金德) told a press conference at 5pm yesterday that ASE has violated Article 73 of the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法) and because the bureau considers the violations to be severe, it can order the company to cease operation.
The bureau listed eight reasons that led to its decision, including that the company has violated the act numerous times — it was fined six times between 2011 and last year — but made no improvements, and had known about the toxic wastewater on Oct. 1, but did not report the matter to the bureau and intentionally continued discharging the contaminated wastewater.
Other reasons include that the company used tap water to dilute the wastewater in its storage tank before environmental inspectors collected water samples for checks, that its automatic water monitoring data showed many abnormal water quality entries after Oct. 1 and that large amounts of wastewater were discharged into the sewage system without passing through the flow meter between Oct. 5 and Oct. 7.
The bureau added that it found wastewater treatment equipment damaged and operated inadequately when it examined the plant between Saturday last week and Thursday. It said the data reports submitted by the company are alleged to have been fabricated, while the nickel concentration level of 4.38mg/L found in its wastewater is much higher than the level of 0.003mg/L found in the river water between August and last month.
Nickel can cause severe contamination to nearby farmland.
Meanwhile, the city government’s Labor Affairs Bureau said the shutdown is due to the company’s mistakes, so it is not allowed to lay off or send workers on unpaid leave during the shutdown period.
Additional reporting by CNA