Since 2011, the EPA has been actively pursuing enterprises that have made illegal gains through violating environmental regulations. As of the end of August 2016, the EPA has issued penalties in 84 such cases and fines totaling NT$836.637 million have been levied. The EPA will continue to track down and confiscate illegal gains made through violating the law, and is urging all enterprises to fully abide by environmental regulations to avoid being punished.
There have been frequent cases of unscrupulous operators violating environmental regulations in recent years, but members of the public are usually not aware of such odious behaviors until the hazards reach more threatening levels. Operators, however, can often make illegal gains that far outstrip the fines they pay, causing a great sense of injustice among the public. Some such operators still believe that if the fines are lower than the costs of preventing or dealing with pollution, then they are better off not investing in pollution control facilities, to the great detriment of the environment. To address the issue, the EPA has amended regulations to allow for much heavier fines and has also formulated regulations to allow it to confiscate illegal gains from violators, as indicated by the Administrative Penalties Act. Stronger measures such as these are proving effective in protecting the environment.
According to EPA statistics, from 2011 to the end of August 2016, the EPA fined 84 cases for illegal gains, with the total fines amounting to NT$836 million, of which the largest was more than NT$436 million.
The cases of illegal gains have all involved infractions of the Air Pollution Control Act, the Water Pollution Control Act, the Waste Disposal Act, or the Environmental Impact Assessment Act. The most common violations involve delaying investment in necessary equipment or facilities, not operating existing facilities, having facilities with inadequate functioning, not contracting licensed waste disposal operators to remove waste, and not paying the costs laid out in environmental assessment pledges.
The EPA restates that confiscating illegal gains can result in fines that are not subject to the maximum limit on fines stipulated in environmental law, and it has been shown that heavy fines do indeed reduce or prevent this type of illegal behavior. Amendments to the Water Pollution Control Act in 2015 clearly lay out the scope of the confiscation of illegal gains, which includes both active gains and passive gains (such as not paying costs that should be paid or paying reduced costs). The Act also now states that separate fines shall be issued for violations of regulations and for confiscation of illegal gains.
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)