Sat, Jan 24, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Wastewater, Yucheng acts revised

PUBLIC OUTCRY:The wastewater act was amended after criticism that the punishment imposed on ASE was too light. Offenders can now be sentenced to life in jail

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Amendments to the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法) and the institution of the Act for Healthcare Services for the Yucheng Victims (油症患者健康照護服務條例) were approved by the legislature on Thursday.

The proposal to amend the Water Pollution Control Act was prompted by criticism of the fine given to Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光半導體) after the corporation was found to have dumped massive amounts of wastewater into Kaohsiung’s Houjin River (後勁溪) last year.

The fine was said to be too low to deter companies from committing similar violations.

While existing regulations limit the punishment to a maximum of three years in prison and a fine of between NT$200,000 and NT$1 million (US$ 6,363 and US$31,815), the amended act would see those guilty of dumping wastewater judged potentially lethal to human life subject to life sentences and a possible fine of up to NT$30 million.

Those found to have dumped wastewater leading to serious illnesses and disabilities could face a prison sentence of between three and 10 years and a fine of up to NT$25 million, while those who have dumped wastewater leading to serious illness could be punished with a prison sentence of between one and seven years and a fine of up to NT$20 million.

If companies found dumping wastewater harmful to human health, agricultural and fishery production or the source of drinking water fail to take immediate responses or flout the competent authority’s order to halt operations, they are subject to up to three years in prison and a fine of between NT$200,000 and NT$5 million.

Under the amended act, whistle-blowers cannot be fired, demoted, subject to pay cuts or other punitive measures, and are to receive a proportion of any fine levied as reward for reporting illegal operations.

In related news, the Act for the Health Care Services for the Yucheng Victims was passed late on Thursday.

The victims of the disease are those who were poisoned by cooking oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in 1979.

More than 2,000 were intoxicated and suffered “chlorance,” a skin condition consisting of cysts and rashes, lasting damage to organs and immune and neural systems, and birth defects in children.

The statutes have been established to prohibit discrimination against the victims, 1,776 of whom are currently registered with the government, and to protect their rights to education, employment and medical treatment.

People with spouses, children or grandchildren who died of their injuires before the passage of the bill are each entitled to a solatium of NT$200,000.

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