Taipei, Dec. 16 (CNA) Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE) Chairman Jason Chang apologized Monday for causing distress in society over the company's discharge of untreated wastewater into a river used for farm irrigation, but described it as an "isolated" case.
He described his company as "a responsible enterprise" that would never "intentionally" discharge untreated wastewater or install secret pipelines to discharge such water.
In a news conference called after the recent outrage over the wastewater released by one of the company's plants in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, Chang said the release of the toxic water was an "isolated, individual incident."
If anyone in his company is found to have violated the law by intentionally discharging the water, he said, he will not condone such behavior.
He said that after he learned about the discharge and the ensuing public misgivings about the company's credibility on environmental protection, he was "extremely shocked and sad."
Chang extended his deepest apology for causing the uneasiness. He noted that he started from scratch in Kaohsiung 30 years ago, and has now become the world's largest IC packaging and testing services provider.
"There is no ASE without Kaohsiung," Chang said, adding that the company has always attached importance to its name and invested in environmental protection.
He said the company will work with related authorities to get to the bottom of the scandal, conduct an environmental overhaul and hire environmental consultancy firms at home and overseas to oversee the environmental protection programs of all the company's plants.
He also announced that to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the company in 2014, he will donate at least NT$100 million (US$3.37 million) annually starting next year, for a period of 30 years.
In addition to donating toward environmental protection work in Kaohsiung, he is also investing NT$750 million in a gray water recycling plant in Kaohsiung, which is scheduled to go into operation in the second quarter of next year.
The company's plants in Kaohsiung will continue to expand and will increase its workforce by 16,000 people, Chang said, adding that he is proud of Taiwan and his roots will remain here.
ASE Chief Operating Officer Wu Tian-yu said the company has long been releasing alkaline wastewater, and that the reported 23 fines related to environmental protection issued in November revolved around administrative violations, or water with higher-than-standard measurements of suspended particles, which he said does not amount to pollution.
Strictly speaking, there is only one incident of releasing acid water, which occurred for eight hours Oct. 1, he said.
Wu also said reports about the shutdown of its K7 plant are "pure speculation."
He said the company is operating normally and there have been no transfers of orders from its company to other firms, contrary to some reports.
However, Kaohsiung's Environmental Protection Bureau said Chang was talking "nonsense."
Chen Chin-der, bureau director, said ASE was "intentionally" releasing the untreated wastewater.
Chen said the Kaohsiung city government fined the company three times in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
This time, when bureau officials traced the pollutants in the river to ASE, the company was still releasing strongly acidic water, Chen said.
The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office said the pace of the investigation into the pollution will not be affected by Chang's statement.
A day earlier, police and prosecutors raided five ASE plants in Kaohsiung's Nanzih District, seizing documents and computers with video feeds, as they worked to determine how the company should be held responsible for the dumping of the untreated wastewater into rivers.
(By Pan Chi-yi, Chen Chao-fu and Lilian Wu)