Pollution penalties on Formosa Petrochemical plant in Kaohsiung unchanged

After finding two wells that contained levels of a carcinogenic pollutant above the legal limit, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has upheld fines of NT$38-150 mln. EPA has stated that penalties leveled against the Formosa Petrochemical plant in Kaohsiung County’s Renwu Township are to remain unchanged. In 2009, the EPA found that levels of 1,2-dichloroethane, believed to be a carcinogen, were 30,000 times higher than maximum allowable levels according to government regulations. A taskforce commissioned thereafter, concluded that two wells located outside the plant had water containing levels of 1,2-dichloroethane that exceeded government regulations. One well built near Wuhe Village to monitor the pollution was found to have water containing seven times the level of 1,2-­dichloroethane allowable by the government. The other was a well drilled by local citizens that was found to have levels 1.75 times the allowable level. Since it is not possible for the taskforce to determine if the pollution found in the two wells was caused by Formosa’s petrochemical plant, Formosa has not been asked to shut down the plant. Under the Water Pollution Control Act, the Renwu plant could be fined a maximum of NT$600,000. But the EPA decided to cite the Administrative Penalty Act which takes into account the ‘improper gains’ Formosa made through the years by saving money it should have spent to contain the pollutants. Though Formosa knew about the pollution in 2002, the EPA could only calculate the penalties accumulated since 2006, when the Act was promulgated.
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