Increase fines for firms that discharge waste illegally

I was utterly appalled when I read the report about companies illegally dumping wastewater containing chemicals or other materials into public sewers (Illegal discharge into sewers: 38 firms punished, June 11).

The high number of firms caught, high number of repeat offenders and that large, reputable companies were involved shocked me.

Given that there are many big companies on the list, it makes me shudder to think about the amount of toxic material that was discharged.

This makes me wonder whether there are other companies out there doing the same and which have not been caught.

It is also surprising that the companies were issued relatively low fines, given that they saved money on not treating and rendering their waste safe before discharge.

These firms may even re-offend, given the cost of treating the waste water likely outweighs the fines.

It is time to review the laws governing waste management.

Monitoring at the last inspection chamber of a company's sewer system has to be improved and more parameters should be included in the checks.

The authorities should also step up surveillance of such companies and increase fines so that companies will think twice before discharging toxic waste.

Roger Chua Yeu Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2019, with the headline 'Increase fines for firms that discharge waste illegally'. Print Edition | Subscribe