Maximum Fine for Tampering with Monitoring Data Increased to NT$20 Million


On 10 June 2020, the EPA announced the revised and renamed Fine Determination Criteria for Stationary Sources in Private and Public Premises that Violate the Air Pollution Control Act (公私場所固定污染源違反空氣污染防制法應處罰鍰額度裁罰準則). Depending on the severity of the impacts, penalties are raised for future Air Pollution Control Act violators involved in the following acts: emitting hazardous air pollutants, intensifying air pollution during air quality deterioration periods or in regions with poor air quality, and other malevolent acts such as nighttime violations, weekend and holiday emissions exceeding limits, rerouting and illegal discharges, and providing false information.

The Fine Determination Criteria is the basis that local environmental authorities use to determine the amount of fines. The amendment was based on the revised Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法) announced on 1 August 2018, which greatly increased the maximum fine for severe violations, such as tampering with monitoring data, from NT$1 million to NT$20 million. In addition to administrative penalties such as fines, suspension of operations, and termination of business, illegal gains will also be confiscated, and criminal penalties are in place for some major violations. Meanwhile, the lower limit of fines is lowered for minor violations. For example, the minimum fine for open-air burning and other individual behaviors was lowered from NT$5000 to NT$1,200. This was to ensure that penalties are proportionate to the severity of violations.

The EPA pointed out that this revision particularly targets the deliberate tampering with data of continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) for stationary emissions, allowing the maximum fine to be imposed in order to deter deception. There have been incidents in which enterprises tampered with CEMS data capturing programs, leading to false monitoring data being reported to competent authorities. Previously, according to the results from the fine calculation formula, competent authorities could only impose a maximum fine of NT$300,000, which was thought to be too light. From now on, competent authorities can directly impose the maximum fine of NT$20 million for such violations.

The amendment also increased the penalties for violations concerning discharge of hazardous air pollutants. In addition, “Impact level” was added as a factor in fine calculation, and the weights of penalty factors are to be adjusted according to the severity of the violation. Harsher penalties will be imposed in the future for refusing to cooperate with the implementation of emergency response measures during air quality deterioration periods, or operating pollution sources without first applying for permits in accordance with regulations. 

In addition, newly added stipulations specify the determining factors that can be used to adjust penalties based on individual cases. Circumstances deserving heavier penalties include nighttime, weekend, or holiday violations, noncompliance with suspension or shutdown orders, and violations in regions of poor air quality. On the other hand, penalties can be lessened for procedural violations not involving pollutant discharges, or circumstances such as first violation in three years, or behavior such as cooperating during inspection, or proactively reporting and improving the problems.

Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (7)

Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)
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