The Kaohsiung High Administrative Court on Tuesday revoked a fine handed down to Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE) over pollution in the Houjin River (後勁溪) in Kaohsiung in 2013, the verdict sparking criticism from environmentalists.
The company’s K7 factory was found to have discharged highly acidic wastewater containing nickel into the river on Oct. 1, 2013 and the Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau fined the company NT$102 million (US$3.13 million at current exchange rates).
ASE appealed the decision.
The court on Tuesday ruled in favor of ASE, saying the bureau used incorrect criteria to calculate the fine and wrongly estimated the company’s gains from the illegal action.
The fine was calculated based on 70 inspections conducted by the bureau at the plant from 2007 to 2013, but wastewater discharge regulation breaches were only found on six inspections, while no such problems were found from the other 64 inspections, the court said, adding that the fine was unjustified.
The fine should be revoked and recalculated according to correct standards, the court said.
Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Derek Chen (陳金德) said the city government could not accept the ruling and would appeal.
The fine was calculated based on an estimate of the amount of effluent and sludge produced by the K7 plant that went unreported and the city government performed its duty correctly by gathering evidence and facilitating prosecution, Chen said.
He called on the Legislative Yuan to increase the fine again to deter further breaches of the law, adding that the city government’s handling of the ASE case contributed to the latest revision to the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法), which raised the maximum fine from NT$600,000 to NT$20 million.
Environmental group Citizen of the Earth said it is ridiculous that ASE does not have to pay a fine after the company apparently contaminated the Houjin River, farmland, as well as affecting nearby fishing.
“There has been no conviction of the company or its employees so far and all the fines were revoked, despite the compelling evidence,” Citizen of the Earth researcher Lee Han-lin (李翰林) said. “There are laws and punishments, but they cannot be used against violators. What is the problem?”
“As disciplinary measures are already in place, something is clearly wrong with the Kaohsiung City Government’s ability to enforce the law,” Lee said. “It spent two months gathering evidence and calculating fines only to see its decision overruled. What is the use of increased fines if they cannot be imposed?”
“If ASE gets away with this even after so much social and government resources have been invested in investigating and prosecuting the case, what could the city government and the Environmental Protection Administration [EPA] do with other cases that do not attract the same amount of attention and resources?” Lee asked.
The EPA should install a 24-hour water-quality monitoring system in the Houjin River and other rivers prone to pollution, while making all data public online so people could use them in real time to detect potential breaches and deter illegal activities, the group said.
The governments of Taoyuan and Changhua County have established control zones in areas regularly polluted by illicit discharge and the Houjin River should also be recognized as a water quality control zone, where concentrations of heavy metals and contaminants are capped, the group said.
DIPLOMATIC MOVES: Beijing is reportedly pressing the state after reports of forming links with Taiwan, while the ministry is also planning to reopen its office in Guam soon A representative office is set to open in Somaliland at the end of this month, at the earliest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday amid reports that Beijing is sending a diplomatic delegation to the east African country. The ministry on July 1 announced that Taiwan and Somaliland would establish representative offices, following a report by the Somaliland Chronicle Web site. It said at the time that the two nations did not plan to establish formal ties. Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has instructed close confidants to explore the possibility of “mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland,” the Somaliland Chronicle reported
‘IMMORAL, INSINCERE’: Huang Kun-huei said that Ma was ‘distorting history’ in claiming that Lee Teng-hui laid the foundation for the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ Former Presidential Office secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on Saturday rejected former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) claim that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had been a proponent of Beijing’s “one China” principle. Lee, who served as president from 1988 to 2000, died in Taipei on Thursday last week. After visiting the Taipei Guest House on Saturday to pay his respects to Lee, Ma posted on Facebook that “28 years ago on this day” Lee hosted a session of the now-defunct National Unification Council, during which he passed a resolution on the “one China” principle. That resolution became the basis of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s
NEW ERA: Taiwan, which has controlled its virus outbreak, now faces the challenge of safely resuming economic exchanges with other nations, Chang Shan-chwen said People should not focus entirely on having zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, but neglect overall control over the disease situation, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said yesterday. Chang made the remark at a forum in Taipei discussing the steps Taiwan should take in the post-pandemic era, organized by the Chinese-language magazine Global Views Monthly. Chang, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), and Stanford University’s Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention director C. Jason Wang (王智弘) each made a presentation, followed by a panel discussion with Chang, Wang and Buddhist Tzu
A Belgian man who tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan last week is likely to have contracted the disease in Taipei in late June, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health vice dean Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Saturday reported that the man, who is in his 20s, came to Taiwan for work on May 3 and tested positive on Wednesday last week as he was about to depart. The man in March reported loss of taste and smell, the center said, adding that he worked in Changhua County, but visited Taipei several times,