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One ASE plant likely to be suspended and charged over NT$70 million
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-13 04:45 PM
Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE Inc.)(2311), the world's largest integrated circuit packaging and testing services provider, might not only prepare to temporarily shut down one of its plants in Kaohsiung for dumping waste water, but is also likely to be forced to pay back an amount of over NT$70 million (US$2.36 million) in illegal profits for its discharge of waste water over the past six years and ten months.

Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Stephen Shen said the authority is filing for a provisional seizure of assets to prevent ASE from fradulent conveyance. Shen apologized to legislators on Thursday for being incapable of uncovering ASE’s misbehavior until a recent aerial documentary caught some images of pollution near its plants. More concealed unlicensed pipelines were found afterwards.

Monday, Kaohsiung City’s Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) found pollution in the creek nearby, which was caused by untreated waste water. The water, which contained toxic substances, came from the K7 plant in the company's Kaohsiung complex. The bureau also ordered the plant to suspend operations, but the company was given a 10-day period mandated by the Water Pollution Control Act to explain and defend itself before the final decision is made, according to media reports.

According to Chen Chin-der, director of the EPB, ASE has been submitting false waste water data to cover up the test results. In addition to the K7 plant, Chen added that an unlicensed facility found at ASE's K5 and K11 plants prove that the company may have intentionally dumped toxic waste water, and each plant might be separately charged for damages and waste removal costs.

The EPB and the EPA have decided to claim up to NT$70 million against ASE's K7 plant based on the under-reported volume of waste water discharge, which serves as the base for calculating the cost of cleaning.

ASE defends itself by attributing the pollution to a malfunctioning at water discharge facilities, trying to convince the public that it is not an intentional act. According to experts, the process of manufacturing an integrated circuit requires huge amount of water and chemicals, and eventually produces toxic waste water containing nickel, copper, and other highly hazardous pollutants which need to be properly treated before discharge. Some manufacturers choose to skip this process to save the cost.

ASE stock ceased to freefall in Taipei Friday and closed slightly higher (+0.1%) at NT$27.65 per share.

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