Environmental groups yesterday urged the government to order Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE) to immediately stop operations following its discharge of toxic wastewater and amend the law to enforce heavier punishments in such cases.
The Greater Kaohsiung Government announced on Monday that the company’s K7 plant was found to be illegally discharging large amounts of untreated industrial wastewater containing nickel and highly acidic, toxic substances into the nearby Houjin River (後勁溪).
In addition to imposing the maximum fine of NT$600,000 (US$20,209) for violating the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法), the local Environmental Protection Bureau said it would order the plant to stop operations. The Environmental Protection Administration added the plant should pay for its “illegal gains.”
However, environmental groups were not satisfied with these punishments and yesterday called on the government to do more to deal with the case.
The Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) said the Ministry of Economic Affairs should order ASE to stop operations immediately at the plant and force it to tackle water and land pollution in the area.
“We ask government officials to take a tough stance with the company because the taxes we pay are supposed to help government officials monitor these companies and ensure that they only discharge wastewater that conforms to our regulations, so that the public will be protected,” TEPU secretary-general Andy Tung (董建宏) said.
The company has received tax incentives from the government, but it is still polluting the land, Huang said.
He called for a comprehensive review of environmental protection measures at all industrial areas nationwide and cancelation of tax incentives if they are found to be violating environmental laws.
Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan (CET) executive director Lee Ken-cheng (李根政) said that the firm must compensate the farmers and clean up the environment if it is responsible for contaminating nearby farmland.
The CET also suggested that the government amend the Water Pollution Control Act to impose heavier punishments for those who break the law.
Separately yesterday, ASE executive vice president Lin Hsien-tang (林顯堂) was released on NT$5 million bail after being questioned for six hours, and Su Ping-shou (蘇炳碩), head of ASE’s K7 plant in Kaohsiung, was taken into custody early yesterday morning after being questioned overnight, prosecutors said.
The K7 plant, which employs 5,000 workers, is part of a complex of ASE factories in Greater Kaohsiung.
It generates monthly revenues of about US$75 million which amount to more than 30 percent of ASE Kaohsiung’s total sales per month, according to the ASE group.
Additional reporting by CNA