Advanced Semiconductor Engineering’s (ASE) K7 plant may be asked to cease operations tomorrow following a government review of the company’s response to allegations that it had discharged toxic wastewater into a river nearby.
Greater Kaohsiung Government’s Environmental Protection Bureau sent the chip packaging firm a written notice on Monday last week demanding it submit a proposal within 10 days on how it plans to improve the situation following allegations it had illegally discharged wastewater containing nickel and other toxic substances into Houjin River (後勁溪) and fabricated records of its wastewater discharge.
The response was due yesterday.
The company managed to turn in its proposal before office hours ended yesterday.
ASE Group senior vice president Chou Kuang-chun (周光春), who delivered the proposal, said the bureau should be able to see the company’s willingness to improve the situation in the proposal.
The bureau said it would review the company’s response and would reach a decision today. The ruling would then be delivered and enforced tomorrow, which could force the company’s K7 plant to shutdown the assembly lines that had generated the pollution.
Bureau chief secretary Chang Jui-hun (張瑞琿) said the company had committed many violations and the assembly lines generating pollution should stop operation for more thorough inspections.
Chang said the bureau had since Saturday last week dispatched three groups of people, who took turns working on different shifts to monitor the wastewater treatment at ASE’s K7 plant. They found that many of the devices measuring the pH scale of the wastewater were out of order, with the value shown on the devices being different from the ones tested by the inspectors.
The pH value measured in the organic wastewater tank was also inconsistent with the values approved by the government.
In addition, the plant was found to have used the unapproved backup storage tanks, to which the unauthorized pipelines discharged wastewater.
“A specialist surnamed Wu (吳), who was registered as the person in charge of wastewater treatment at the K7 plant, actually worked at the company’s K11 plant. This is also a violation of the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法),” Chang said.
Though the city government appeared ready to penalize the semiconductor company, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) said Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) needed to clarify what he termed as an “inconsistent standards” set by the city before the city decides to shut down the company’s operations.
Shen said the company had applied on Sept. 26 for an emergency discharge of wastewater through the marine discharge pipes on Oct. 5, but it had never received any response from the Greater Kaohsiung Government.
However, he said ASE had already applied for the marine wastewater discharge on April 12, 2010, for which the Greater Kaohsiung Government told ASE to follow the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ regulations on export processing zones.
Shen questioned why the city gave two standards here.
“These documents show that the Greater Kaohsiung Government knew all along that ASE has marine discharge pipes, but now it says these pipes were illegally installed, ” he said.
In response, Greater Kaohsiung’s Environmental Protection Bureau Director-General Chen Chin-der (陳金德) said the bureau did not approve ASE’s marine discharge application and it simply asked the company to follow the regulations set for export processing zones.