TAIPEI - Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE, 日月光) Inc. was discovered yesterday to have concealed pipes for wastewater disposal that were not legally registered with authorities, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) said.
According to ASE, irregularities discovered by officials in water samples should have been chalked up to damaged equipment, with the entire wastewater disposal incident nothing but an accident.
Shen, however, disagreed with ASE's statements.
"Kaohsiung City's Environmental Protection Bureau already discovered pipes hidden inside ASE's K7 factory, so this wastewater disposal case cannot be qualified as a 'single incident,'" said Shen.
Shen said that according to regulations, all pipes used for disposal should be registered with the local government, and the discovery that ASE's factory has hidden pipes is a violation of regulations.
"Officials of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) already met with officials of Kaohsiung City's Environmental Protection Bureau to conduct further investigations and collect more evidence regarding this case," Shen said.
"Whether ASE intentionally or accidentally disposed of wastewater into the river or not, the company has to be punished for such actions," said Shen. "And the evidence collected by officials will be crucial for the government in seizing illegal income from ASE."
When asked if the EPA will consider revising regulations in order to raise fines for similar violations in the future, Shen played down the possibility.
"It is not necessary to revise the regulations because the Administrative Penalty Act already authorizes the government to claim illegal income from companies that violate regulations," said Shen.
According to Shen, even if a company found to be in violation of such regulations files an appeal against their punishment, the company must still pay fines during the course of appeals.
Bureau of Environmental Inspection Inspector-General Chen Shyan-heng (陳咸亨) said that the calculation of ASE's illegal income will include wastewater handling fees for which ASE should bear responsibility, and the amount of wastewater that was disposed of illegally.
Chen said that a permit to dispose of wastewater is issued separately to individual factories, and hidden pipes were also discovered at ASE's K5 and K11 factories.
"The EPA will also consider the amount of wastewater disposed by the K5 and K141 factories as well as how long those factories had been engaging in illegal disposal when calculating the illegal income that ASE has earned," said Chen.
ASE Provides False Statistics: Official
Kaohsiung City's Environmental Protection Bureau yesterday accused ASE of providing false statistics about the factory to the bureau.
Chen Chin-de (陳金德), director of the bureau, said that inspectors pulled their own statistics from monitors at ASE's K7 factory and compared them with the statistics that ASE provided.
"Inspectors found out that the two sets of statistics did not match, which suggests that ASE could have faked the statistics it provided to the bureau," said Chen Chin-de.
"Even though ASE is not required to provide those statistics, it also should not provide false information to authorities," said Chen Chin-de.