Kaohsiung government shutters ASE K7 factory for illegal dumping

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Kaohsiung City's Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) yesterday ordered Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE, 日月光) to stop operations at one of its facilities.

Weeks after the company was caught disposing of untreated wastewater from unregistered pipes, ASE submitted on Thursday a representation letter regarding the wastewater case to the EPB, which was reviewed overnight and led to the bureau's order to stop operations at K7.

The EPB found wastewater from the company's K7 facility polluting the Hou-chin River in Kaohsiung and made a verbal announcement to notify the factory that they needed to shut down. A hardcopy announcement was sent to the company as well, asking for a statement and explanation regarding the order as the pollution was "serious."

Kaohsiung to Take Responsibility: EPA Minister

Before Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) decided to call for the factory shutdown, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) stated that if the factory had to shut down, "that is what it deserves. The decision will also serve as a warning to curb other law-breaking factories in the nation."

On Thursday, Shen requested that Chen provide a more detailed explanation of the scandal. Shen said that though the Kaohsiung City Government claimed on Dec. 12 that ASE had been using concealed and unregistered pipes to dump wastewater illegally, despite official documents stating otherwise. "The bureau not only knew about the pipes installed to dispose wastewater into the ocean but also allowed ASE to do it," Shen claimed. The remarks were interpreted as Shen's veiled attempts to shield ASE from legal sanctions.

"The Kaohsiung Government will have to take full responsibility for its order, especially if it demanded the halt before collecting enough information," Shen warned.

The Kaohiung Government refuted Shen's previous accusations, saying that it had never authorised ASE's pipes.

ASE announced last night that it will try to reduce the impact of the shutdown, and that it would do its best to have the factory continue operating in the future.

MOEA's EPZA to help ASE Get Back on Track

The Ministry of Economic Affairs's (MOEA) Export Processing Zone Administration (EPZA) noted that it will be supervising as ASE makes improvements in order for it to reopen as soon as possible.

Aside from the MOEA's remarks that it has "respect towards the Environment Protection Bureau's decision," the EPZA will also be forming a group of advisors to meet with ASE officials, keep an eye on the company's efforts to redeem itself and also to help the treatment of the wastewater.

The MOEA called for ASE to stay in line with the law and protect the basic rights of its employees, who will eventually be affected by the factory shutdown.