Fifty environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 18 countries have signed a joint statement reprimanding the world’s top chip packager for failing to deal properly with charges of illegally discharging toxic wastewater into a river in Greater Kaohsiung last year, Citizens of the Earth, Taiwan (CET) said yesterday.
Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) was found to have discharged industrial wastewater containing high levels of nickel and other toxic substances into the Houjin River (後勁溪) several times. It was fined NT$600,000 by the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau and its K7 plant was ordered to partially stop operations in December.
ASE has still not done anything to help Houjin River’s recovery nor compensated farmers and fishermen living nearby, the CET said.
Instead, the company filed an administrative appeal against the plant’s shutdown, the group said.
The joint statement also condemned ASE for “green-washing” by placing a statement on the Asian Wall Street Journal on Dec. 16 in which it denied charges that it had deliberately discharged toxic wastewater and illegally installed underground piping within its facilities.
CET’s energy and sustainable industry department director Joan Tsai (蔡卉荀) said that for a company that earns billions of dollars a year, it has not been sincere in dealing with the problem, but only spends money on gaining environmental certifications or publishing media statements to create an image of being a responsible firm.
“It has been found to have illegally discharged wastewater so many times, how can it claim to have solved the problem only three days after it was ordered to shut down and apply to resume operations?’ she asked.
Tsai added that although the city government is still reviewing its petition, the company may be allowed to resume full operation as early as next month.
Through real-time Internet connection, International Campaign for Responsible Technology executive director Ted Smith said the NGOs that signed the petition are calling on major companies, including Apple, Sony and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, to end their cooperation with ASE until it has undertaken due diligence in corporate responsibility, environmental protection and workers’ rights
“The products created by ASE and the immense profits earned by their executives are generated at the expense of the rivers, the land, food safety and the health of the people, taxpayers’ money, and workers’ rights in Taiwan,” says the petition, which also urged ASE to be transparent by disclosing company data on toxic chemical usage and wastewater discharge.
The bureau said it has convened a committee to review ASE’s pollution improvement plans, but has not set a date for the review.