Toxic-waste collection

Jail those responsible for improper disposal

I am surprised that a toxic-waste disposal company with a record of 20 similar offences since 2010 was permitted to operate until its most recent offence (Toxic-waste collection firm ordered to stop work; April 26).

Our local laws governing land-based waste disposal are not stringent enough, as there have been many cases of toxic waste being repeatedly discharged into sewers and drains.

There were a few fires at the sites of waste disposal companies as well.

Such toxic waste contaminates our sewerage system, ground water as well as overall water recycling system with toxic industrial chemicals and heavy metals.

Waste disposal is a commercial business, and so long as the penalties for breaching or intentional non-compliance of the regulations are limited to the imposition of fines and temporary suspension of business, waste disposal companies will continue to take risks to bypass the requirements and procedures.

Under the Merchant Shipping Act, the party causing an intentional or negligent act resulting in oil pollution of our seas is liable for imprisonment.

Our local laws governing land-based waste disposal are not stringent enough, as there have been many cases of toxic waste being repeatedly discharged into sewers and drains. There were a few fires at the sites of waste disposal companies as well.

The local laws should focus on "the responsible party" in the waste disposal companies, and similarly imprison that party.

Otherwise, there is a vast disparity between land-based pollution and offshore pollution.

More should be done to protect the confidence, safety and quality of our water recycling system.

Sum Kam Weng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2018, with the headline 'Jail those responsible for improper disposal'. Print Edition | Subscribe