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EPA mulls 1-strike rule in wastewater infractions

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday said it will propose that any factories caught illegally disposing of wastewater will be shut down immediately.

EPA Secretary-General Fu Shu-chiang (符樹強) said that a meeting will be held on Dec. 26 and all of the directors-general from local environmental protection bureaus will be required to attend.

Fu said that during the meeting, the administration will propose five principles for local bureaus to follow, which will include professional training, vigilance to reports, conducting inspections inside factories, severe punishments and cracking down on illegal income.

Fu's statement came after Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmaker Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said that the recent wastewater scandals, including Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE, 日月光) caught polluting Houchin River, were a result of flaws in the system.

Hsu said that when examining the EPA's 2014 budget, most of the administration's focus is on the same company, which could cause a drawback in the system.

“There is also another issue that the punishment rate in 2011 was 1.9 percent, but there were 5,317 companies that did not pass inspections, which means that the EPA's inspection system did not work,” said Hsu.

Fu said that during the upcoming meeting, the EPA will order local environmental bureaus to shut down any factories that are caught illegally disposing of wastewater, even for first-time offenders.

“All of the local environmental protection bureaus' directors-general have to attend the meeting, or the subsidies for local bureaus might be canceled by the EPA,” said Fu.

Fu also said that those companies that the EPA entrusted to inspect or punish factories that violate regulations do have the authority to carry out those actions, so they actually represent the EPA.

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Officials from the Department of Environmental Protection under the Taipei City Government block pipes at a plant owned by Weihan Enterprise in Taipei, yesterday. (CNA)

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