During the conference, the participants discussed a few environmental criminal cases, such as air pollutant bypass by Tah Hsin Industrial, illegal waste treatment by Chien Shing Stainless Steel, and illegal wastewater discharge by ASE Kaohsiung K7 facility. It was also pointed out that the owners of the above mentioned enterprises could have been sentenced to up to seven years in prison and NT$15 million in fines, according to the amendment.
Taking Tah Hsin Industrial's case for example, if the violation had happened after the promulgation of the amendment, the people responsible for the case (including supervisors, agents, employees or other personnel involved in the offense) could have been charged with violating Article 53 of the Air Pollution Control Act or Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code.
If an enterprise discharges wastewater containing harmful substances that exceeds regulation limits or disposes hazardous industrial waste illegally, its operator shall be referred to the Prosecutors Office for further investigation according to the current Water Pollution Control Act and the Waste Disposal Act. However, after Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code was amended, just the behavior itself or the result of the activity can be considered a criminal act. If the case fits the above mentioned scenario, whether it should be reported to prosecutors and undergo further investigation will be decided through the environmental crime investigation task force established by local prosecutors’offices and the environmental agency-prosecutor-police cooperation mechanism.
After Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code was amended, the EPA has given priority to establishing the execution principles of environmental laws in order to maintain the consistency of the implementation standards among different regulations. By integrating the knowledge and resources from different government agencies and strengthening Taiwan's environmental criminal laws, the EPA has shown its determination to fight environmental crimes.
The EPA hopes to achieve consistent law enforcement across different government environmental agencies and prosecutors' offices. Also, the EPA urges the public to learn about new regulations to prevent accidental violations and to protect the environment by complying with the law.
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)