Sat, Oct 05, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Staff prosecuted over firm’s emissions

CAUGHT:The bottle manufacturer allegedly underreported the amount of organic solvents and ink it used and turned off its air pollution control facilities to save money

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

A thermal imaging camera image taken on July 18 last year shows the chimney temperature at Taiwan Hon Chuan Group’s Taichung factory to be between 40.9 to 44.8°C.

Photo: Chang Jui-chen, Taipei Times

Nineteen workers at the nation’s biggest bottle manufacturer, in Taichung, were prosecuted yesterday for discharging gases with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and underreporting emissions, while the firm was required to pay pollution fees of more than NT$125.86 million (US$4.06 million).

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the Taichung District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday issued separate statements on the case to tout their joint effort in the case.

The prosecutors’ office said that the investigation was closed on Sept. 20, and 19 workers were prosecuted, including the company’s owner, surnamed Tai (戴), and its general manager, surnamed Tsao (曹).

While the company was only named by its first Chinese character, Hung (宏), in the prosecutors’ office’s statement, local media reported that it is the nation’s largest manufacturer of beverage bottles.

The company was found to have intentionally underreported the amount of printing ink and organic solvents used in certain manufacturing processes from 2011 and to have profited through fraud, contravening the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法) and the Criminal Code, the prosecutors’ office said.

The EPA said that it worked with the Taichung Environmental Protection Bureau to monitor the company’s emissions and gathered sufficient evidence for prosecutor Chou Pei-ying (周佩瑩) to inspect the company in September last year.

To save on operation costs, the firm had deliberately turned off its air pollution control facilities, turning them back on during inspections, the EPA said, adding that it discharged gases with VOCs into the air without proper treatment.

The bureau has asked the firm to pay air pollution fees totaling more than NT$125.86 million that it should have paid over the past five years, the EPA said.

Due to its improper operation of pollution control facilities, the company could face a fine of up to NT$20 million under the act, the EPA said, adding that the prosecuted employees could face up to five years in jail.

The act underwent a major overhaul in August last year, with fines for major contraventions being hiked, the EPA said, warning firms not to pollute the environment just to save money.

Additional reporting by Chang Jui-chen

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