Tue, Apr 03, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Ho-Ping Power fined over coal

POLLUTION:The firm benefited from its excessive coal burning more than maximum fines, so the Administrative Penalty Act was invoked to ensure crime would not pay

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday said it had imposed a fine of NT$41.9 million (US$1.4 million) on Ho-Ping Power Co in Hualien County’s Hsiuling Village (秀林), for using excessive amounts of coal to generate power for two years, contravening the conclusion of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) review meeting.

Bureau of Environmental Inspection Director Chen Hsien-heng (陳咸亨) said the EIA review conclusion had set a maximum limit of 3.44 million tonnes of coal each year for generating electricity, but it was reported by a member of the public in April last year that the company might have been burning more than the limit.

After nearly a year of inspections and calculation of the company’s benefits from the illegal behavior, the EPA cited the Administrative Penalty Act (行政罰法) to determine the fine put on Ho-Ping Power, the highest fine it has ever levied on a company for violating EIA conclusions.

In 2009, the company burned an excessive 77,925 tonnes of coal and was fined NT$100,000 by the Hualien County Government for violating the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法), Chen said, adding that the company continued to burn more than the maximum amount of coal in the following year.

The amount of coal used in 2010 continued to exceed the maximum annual limit by 180,738 tonnes.

Chen said the EPA had informed the company of the violations in May last year, allowing it to make a statement, and after taking its statement and other related information into consideration, the administration confirmed the violation.

“According to the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法), violations can be fined between NT$300,000 and NT$1.5 million, and we can order the company to make improvements within a certain timeframe,” Chen said.

“However, the calculation of its benefit from the illegal behavior was much more than the maximum fine, so to correct the notion that illegal behaviors can benefit a company more than legal behaviors, we decided to cite the Administrative Penalty Act to increase the punishment,” he added.

In addition, there have been 15 other cases of fines imposed on companies for illegal gains by the EPA’s Bureau of Environmental Inspection.

However, Chen said only five companies that had been fined less than NT$1.5 million had actually paid the fine.

He said other cases in which companies had been substantially fined, such as the case of groundwater pollution at Formosa Plastics Corp’s plant in Greater Kaohsiung’s Jenwu District (仁武) and water pollution at Kuanying Industrial Park, were still in the process of administrative litigation or administrative appeal.

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