Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) yesterday announced a proposal to increase the fines for dumping illegal wastewater to NT$30 million (US$1 million), bowing to pressure in the wake of recent cases of illegal industrial wastewater disposals.
However, at the same time, the minister defended his administration’s “tough” attitude toward polluters.
Shen was making a report at the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee about the recent discoveries that Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE) and several electroplating companies were illegally discharging wastewater.
In the report, Shen said the administration will propose to amend the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法), to increase the upper limit of fines for illegal wastewater discharge to NT$30 million.
In addition, companies which intentionally discharge toxic wastewater through hidden pipes, avoid inspection or fail to enforce sewage treatment will be dealt with according to the Criminal Code for alleged offenses against public safety, he said.
The proposal will be sent to the legislature for review as early as the middle of next month, he said.
Facing questions as to why the EPA appeared to change its stance on the ASE illegal wastewater discharge case, Shen said: “I held a tough attitude throughout the case. I am always tough on companies that break the law.”
“What we have done correctly should be praised and recognized, and the incorrect things should also be mentioned,” he said, adding that the administration recognized the Greater Kaohsiung Government’s unyielding and fearless attitude, but also made clear that the local government should not have suggest the company used hidden pipes.
Shen said the reason that the administration asked the civil service ethics office to investigate the environmental inspectors is that he hopes that the inspectors will always do the right thing and resist outside pressure.