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ASE proposes improvement plan for work resumption

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE, 日月光) yesterday delivered to Kaohsiung City's Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) a proposal detailing improvements that the company has made or would make in order to secure the resumption of operations at its K7 factory in Kaohsiung.

The EPB, which ordered ASE's K7 plant to halt operations on Dec. 20 after it was revealed that untreated wastewater from the factory was disposed of via unregistered pipes, said that in accordance with regulations, experts will be invited to review ASE's proposal.

Chou Kuang-chun of ASE said that the proposal included improvements that were made based on flaws identified by the EPB as well as a plan to make more improvements in a short period of time. ASE hopes to secure the resumed operation of its K7 plant soon, Chou added.

The proposal followed a visit by ASE Chairman Jason Chang (張虔生) to Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) on Sunday to discuss ASE's implication in the recent scandal over the diversion of wastewater into a local river and hopes that his company's factory can resume work as soon as possible so as to protect the interests of ASE's customers and employees.

The EPB said that ASE's proposal will be reviewed only by experts who do not work for the bureau, and no EPB officials will be assigned to participate in the review process.

According to the EPB, there is no designated timeframe for when a decision on the resumption of work at ASE's K7 factory will take place because all stages of the process must proceed in accordance with existing regulations.

If the experts approve the proposal, the EPB said, and samples of wastewater released by ASE's K7 factory pass inspection 15 consecutive times during the testing period, the bureau will officially approve ASE's application for resumption of operations.

Halting ASE Operations Might Affect GDP: Economic Affairs Minister

Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) yesterday said that if ASE's operations are stopped for over three months, the move might impact Taiwan's GDP as well as its IC industry.

Chang said that if the shutdown can be lifted within two to three months, Taiwan's semiconductor industry should not be affected.

Chang cautioned, however, that a shutdown lasting over three months might affect the global status of Taiwan's IC industry because many purchase orders might be transferred to other countries.

“It is still hard to estimate the impact of the shutdown on GDP, but it will definitely affect the entire industry if production lines are shut down for too long,” said Chang.

EPB Director-General Chen Jin-de (陳金德) said that deliberations on the resumption of work at ASE's K7 plant will go forward according to regulations and will depend on the results of the EPB's review of the proposal submitted by ASE.

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