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Environmentalists call for global ASE boycott
Kaohsiung inspectors plan Friday visit to K7 plant
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-12 04:46 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Environmentalists called for a global boycott of top chips packager Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. Wednesday until its environmental and labor situation had improved.

The company was forced to shut down parts of its operations at its K7 plant in Kaohsiung last year after untreated water polluted with heavy metals had been released into the Houjing Creek.

The call for an international boycott of the company’s products came as local authorities were planning to inspect the factory Friday in preparation for an eventual resumption of work.

Top international electronics firms such as Apple Inc., Sony Corporation and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. should not file any new orders for products from the world’s largest electronic chips tester and packager for the time being, environmental group Citizen of the Earth Taiwan said Wednesday.

The organization presented a list of 50 groups from 18 countries which supported the action.

ASE has still failed to assist in the restoration of the affected water and land and has offered no compensation to farmers and fishermen harmed by the pollution, activists said. Instead of returning illegal profits, the company has even paid for ads claiming it never caused any pollution, according to CET.

Despite all the evidence, the Kaohsiung City Government was sending in a team to inspect new pollution prevention and water treatment measures at the K7 plant this Friday in preparation for the resumption of operations, CET said. Market rumors had it that ASE might receive a green light next month, according to the activists.

The company was moving against all international trends by insisting it had never caused any pollution despite the overwhelming evidence that it was a repeat offender, CET said.

Kaohsiung’s Environmental Protection Bureau said the presence of nickel and other heavy metals in the Houjing Creek had been confirmed, but it was difficult to prove that it had originated with the ASE factory. The company’s plans for improved ways of handling its wastewater were under review, city officials said.

The petition to ask top international electronics producers to stop buying chips from ASE was signed by a wide variety of organizations from the United States, Europe, South Korea and Hong Kong. The groups, including the International Campaign for Responsible Technology and the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, paid close attention to the harm high-tech firms caused to the environment and to labor rights, CET said.

The activists also questioned the credibility of international organizations which gave companies certificates for environmentally friendly production.

ASE and five of its managers were indicted for pollution last month, though company chairman Jason Chang escaped charges. Prosecutors said the K7 plant released an estimated 5,194 tons of wastewater contaminated with heavy metals into the Houjing Creek last October 1. The incident touched off major concerns about rice and other foodstuffs grown in the area, while the company was accused of trying to mislead inspectors.

Kaohsiung fined ASE the maximum amount of NT$600,000 (US$20,000) and ordered relevant operations at the factory to be halted from December 20. Prosecutors ruled that the unauthorized discharge of wastewater through a hidden pipeline into the sea was an administrative violation which should be fined by the EPB.

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