At the end of January 2019, the EPA joined forces with the Taichung City Environmental Protection Bureau and the Taichung District Prosecutors Office, and cracked down on an electroplating factory for illegal wastewater bypass. The three owners of the factory, who claimed to have recycled all their wastewater, were charged under the Water Pollution Control Act and the Criminal Code of the Republic of China.
Recycling 100% of wastewater and leaving zero discharge requires a high cost and advanced technologies. Wastewater produced by electroplating businesses normally contains high concentrations of substances harmful to human health. Therefore, wastewater collection and treatment facilities should be properly installed and carefully maintained in electroplating enterprises.
The electroplating factory obtained their water pollution control permit by falsely claiming that they recycled all their wastewater. However, the EPA discovered that the reported amounts of water usage, wastewater production and recycled wastewater were unbalanced. After using IoT sensors to monitor the surrounding drainage channels of the factory, the EPA obtained evidence of illegal discharge containing a nickel concentration 330 times higher than the standards.
In the early morning of 26 January 2019, the EPA, police and prosecutors’ office carried out a joint inspection on the illegal effluent. They discovered that the company had been bypassing heavy metal-containing wastewater through storage tanks and ducts hidden underground to reduce the cost of wastewater treatment and using groundwater to make up for the water needed in the manufacturing process.
In addition, the EPA found that several wastewater treatment facilities and procedures in the factory failed to meet the requirements specified in the permit. Because of the improper collection of wastewater and poorly maintained transportation and storage equipment, highly acidic wastewater was discharged into the adjacent water bodies. The owners of the company have been charged with serious violations under the Water Pollution Control Act. The company's operation has also been suspended, and the owners will be facing an expensive penalty and confiscation of illegal gains that amount to roughly NT$25 million.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (2)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)