Toxic-waste collection firm ordered to stop work

A toxic-waste collection firm has been issued a stop-work order after it was caught discharging toxic wastewater into public sewers. It is the first time that national water agency PUB has issued such an order.

The stop-work order for Cramoil Singapore was served to the company's managing director, Mr Tan Kim Seng, on Monday and took effect immediately. It means the company can no longer discharge any used water from its premises into public sewers, said PUB in a statement yesterday.

The company was caught in the act following overnight operations by PUB earlier this month.

PUB found that industrial used water discharged was brown and had 16 different types of prohibited volatile organic compounds.

"The concentration levels were dangerously high," said PUB. "At these levels, the (compounds) could cause fires in the sewer pipeline and downstream Jurong Water Reclamation Plant."

Cramoil's discharge also contained five kinds of metals and chemicals in concentrations that exceeded the allowable limits.

"These toxic substances pose a danger to workers operating and maintaining the public sewerage system and can upset the used water treatment process," PUB said.

Checks by its officers also found Cramoil's automatic used water sampler, which PUB uses to monitor industrial used water discharge from the company to the public sewer, had been tampered with.

This is not Cramoil's first offence. Since 2010, it has committed 20 similar offences and has been fined a total of $52,500.

PUB said it will be pressing charges under the Sewerage and Drainage Act for illegally discharging trade effluent containing dangerous or hazardous substances into a public sewer.

First-time offenders can be fined up to $50,000, while repeat offenders could be fined up to $100,000.

"PUB does not condone any blatant disregard of our regulations on illegal discharge of trade effluent, and anyone who wilfully causes harm and danger to our public sewerage system," said Mr Maurice Neo, director of PUB's water reclamation network.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2018, with the headline 'Toxic-waste collection firm ordered to stop work'. Print Edition | Subscribe