ASE Zhongli plant partially closed amid scandal
By Katherine Wei , The China Post
December 16, 2013, 12:16 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Accused of causing heavy river pollution in Kaohsiung, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE, 日月光) was also forced to partially shut down its Zhongli branch yesterday due to the mishandling of wastewater.
The company's Kaohsiung facilities were targeted by prosecutors and Kaohsiung City's Environmental Protection Bureau after unregistered wastewater disposal pipes and containers were discovered at its K7 facility. The prosecution collected wastewater samples and summoned factory personnel and management for further investigation, later discovering that the company's Zhongli factory concealed similar pollution sources.
After a late-night raid, the Taoyuan County Environment Protection Bureau found signs of unprocessed wastewater being disposed of from ingot cutting machines in ASE's Zhongli factory, prompting the bureau to order the factory to halt all operating machinery immediately and seal off the factory pipes.
Investigators also noted that the content of the wastewater “differs from the norm,” and that the water was tracked to yet another unregistered pipe and large water tank in the factory.
Though factory personnel claimed that all wastewater was processed and recycled for future use, investigators stated that the motor that powered the supposed recycling procedure was not in operation, proving that whenever the tank was filled to the top by wastewater, the contents would flow to the disposal opening via the pipe that runs from the tank without being processed at all.
Hours after the demanded pause, ASE announced that the factory was not shut down entirely; three ingot cutting machines were back in operation after government-demanded improvements were made.
The prosecution also took samples of the wastewater and documents from the factory for detailed analysis; the samples will be tested for levels of chemical oxygen demand, chloride and heavy metals.
Kaohsiung Mayor Calls for Responsibility
The Kaohsiung City Government will be collaborating with its Environment Protection Bureau to ensure ASE takes responsibility for the pollution the company has been causing, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) said.
According to Environment Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏), the Kaohsiung City Environment Protection Bureau has caught ASE violating regulations 23 times within two years, and another violation could cost it the right to continue operating. Shen also added that the local authorities were been too slow in reacting to the issue.
“Both the Kaohsiung government and the Environment Protection Bureau have to take responsibility for the (pollution) incident, and will seek legal actions against ASE in regard to the protection of the natural environment,” Mayor Chen concluded.
The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office also searched five other ASE facilities yesterday, sending a team of over 50 prosecutors and policemen to investigate its K1, K7, K9, K10 and K11 facilities.