Illegal discharge into sewers: 38 firms punished

Of the 18 repeat offenders, BreadTalk got the highest fine of $16,300. It had previously been fined $19,000 over six charges in 2014.
Of the 18 repeat offenders, BreadTalk got the highest fine of $16,300. It had previously been fined $19,000 over six charges in 2014.ST FILE PHOTO

18 repeat offenders, including BreadTalk, get harsher fines after getting caught during inspections, surveillance

National water agency PUB has prosecuted 38 companies, including bakery and food manufacturing company BreadTalk, in the past year for illegally dumping wastewater containing chemicals or other materials into public sewers.

Among these companies, 18 were repeat offenders and given harsher penalties, the agency said in a statement yesterday.

Of the repeat offenders, BreadTalk and Tat Seng Packaging Group, a printing and packaging manufacturer, got the highest fines of $16,300 and $14,100 respectively.

The offences by the various companies over the illegal discharge of trade effluent, or liquid waste created by businesses, were discovered during site inspections as well as PUB's surveillance of the public sewerage system, the agency said.

Trade effluent illegally discharged into public sewers poses significant risks to public health and the environment.

The 38 companies, which included NSL Oilchem Logistics, KMS Industrial and Metal Treatment Technology, were prosecuted from last June to May this year and fined a total of $253,700.

Their offences ranged from discharging waste containing regulated metals or chemical substances exceeding allowable limits, to more serious ones such as discharging waste containing dangerous substances or volatile organic compounds.

These could cause fires in the sewers and may threaten PUB's treatment of used water, the agency said.

BreadTalk was prosecuted for discharging, on multiple occasions, wastewater containing regulated substances exceeding allowable concentration limits into the public sewer in June 2016 and April 2017.

 
 

PUB added that BreadTalk had six previous charges related to three instances in 2014, and was fined $19,000 over them. BreadTalk refused to comment on the charges.

Tat Seng Packaging Group was taken to task for discharging regulated substances, such as copper and boron, that exceeded the allowable limit in June 2016, December 2017 and March last year.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, Tat Seng Packaging Group directed ST to its Annual Report 2018, released on April 10, which said that after acquiring advanced wastewater treatment equipment, additional measures were implemented in order to comply with regulatory requirements.

"We will continue to work towards further enhancing our industrial used water management practices," said the company.

Their offences ranged from discharging waste containing regulated metals or chemical substances exceeding allowable limits, to more serious ones such as discharging waste containing dangerous substances or volatile organic compounds. These can cause fires in the sewers and may threaten PUB's treatment of used water.

Referring to the repeat offenders, Mr Maurice Neo, director of water reclamation network at PUB, said: "(They) have been placed under PUB's surveillance watch, where we are monitoring their trade effluent discharge closely and will step up the frequency of inspections at their premises. In severe cases, PUB may also suspend or revoke the approval for the company to discharge trade effluent in the sewer."

Under the Sewerage and Drainage Act, illegally discharging trade effluent containing dangerous or hazardous substances into the public sewer carries a fine of up to $50,000 for the first offence, and a fine of up to $100,000 for repeat offenders.

Other companies have also got into trouble with the law for water pollution-related offences.

In February, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and PUB said enforcement action by NEA would be taken against contractor UGL (Singapore) over its illegal discharge that polluted a Potong Pasir outlet drain.

 • Additional reporting by Goh Yan Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline 'Illegal discharge into sewers: 38 firms punished'. Print Edition | Subscribe