Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-21 07:32 PM
Kaohsiung’s Environmental Protection Bureau announced on Friday it was ordering the top global chip tester and packager to suspend a number of operations at its K7 plant because of the repeated discharge of polluted wastewater into the nearby Houjing Creek.
ASE confirmed it had received the order Saturday noon, but the company’s attorneys were still studying the document to prepare a reaction. It would address the situation and apply for a resumption of production as soon as possible, the company said.
Chang would visit the mayor at 11 a.m. Sunday, probably to discuss the pollution issue and the eventual improvements, a city spokesman said.
Kaohsiung officials said they would not only closely watch how ASE changed its practices and repaired allegedly faulty equipment at its plant, but also how it treated its labor force.
Chen said it was absolutely essential for ASE to safeguard the rights of its staff. On Friday, when the city announced its sanctions against the company, it also said the electronics giant would not be allowed to lay off staff, cut pay or put employees on leave without pay during the suspension of operations.
The EPB said that the period between its order and an approval to resume work could take up to five months. During that period, there would be several inspections, first to see whether the factory had followed up the city’s order, and later to see whether its discharges corresponded to official pollution standards and did not turn the clock back to the previous situation, EPB officials said.
Excessive levels of nickel and other heavy metals were found in the Houjing Creek, which supplies water to rice and other farmers. The pollution was traced back to the K7 factory, where hidden pipelines were also found which took wastewater straight into the sea.
ASE allegedly tried to dilute the pollution with tap water to fool EPB inspectors, and later claimed the release of nickel was due to a one-off accident which would not happen again.
At the Legislative Yuan, opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Kun-tse said he was filing an amendment to raise fines for polluters like ASE to a range from NT$3 million (US$100,000) to NT$30 million (US$1 million) from the present NT$60,000 (US$2,000) to NT$600,000 (US$20,000). The existing fines were not enough to hurt powerful multinational corporations like ASE, Lee said.