News | June 10, 2019

38 Companies Punished For Illegal Discharge Into Public Sewers

More than S$250,000 fine imposed on offenders in the past year

Trade effluent that is illegally discharged into public sewers poses significant risks to public health and the environment. National water agency PUB takes a tough stand against such acts and successfully prosecuted 38 companies between June 2018 and May 2019, for illegal trade effluent discharge offences. These companies were fined a total of S$253,700.​​​

​​​The offences were discovered during site inspections and also through PUB’s surveillance of the public sewerage system. They ranged from the discharge of trade effluent containing regulated metals or chemical substances exceeding allowable limits, to more serious offences of discharging trade effluent containing dangerous or hazardous substances, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These types of acts can cause fires in the sewers and may threaten PUB’s treatment of used water.

​​​Among the 38 companies, 18 were repeat offenders and given harsher penalties. Bakery and food manufacturing company Breadtalk Pte Ltd was prosecuted for multiple instances of discharging trade effluent containing regulated chemicals exceeding allowable concentration limits into the public sewer in June 2016 and April 2017, and fined a total of S$16,300. Recalcitrant offender Tat Seng Packaging Group Ltd, a printing and packaging company, was prosecuted for discharging trade effluent containing a regulated chemical and metal exceeding allowable concentration limits on three occasions in June 2016, December 2017 and March 2018. Tat Seng was fined a total of $14,100.

​​​Other offenders include licensed toxic waste collector NSL Oilchem Logistics Pte Ltd, electro-plating company Metal Treatment Technology (S) Pte Ltd, and engineering and machinery companyKMS Industrial. They were fined S$12,200, $11,300 and S$10,500 r​​​​espectively.

  • NSL Oilchem Logistics Pte Ltd discharged high concentrations of trade effluent containing sulphate and zinc between January 2017 and May 2017. In particular, the zinc concentration grossly exceeded the allowable limit by about 68 times.
  • Metal Treatment Technology (S) Pte Ltd discharged trade effluent containing prohibited VOC methylene chloride into the public sewer on three separate occasions in November 2016, February 2017 and May 2017. Methylene chloride was found at an extremely high level for the first occasion.
  • ​​KMS Industrial discharged trade effluent containing high concentrations of prohibited VOCs, namely toulene, ethylbenzene, and xylene in November 2016. At these levels, the VOCs can cause fires and impact downstream operations at Kranji Water Reclamation Plant.

PUB takes proactive steps to ensure compliance
PUB carries out surveillance of trade and industrial premises through regular inspections and views any non-compliant discharge very seriously. Beyond harsher penalties, recalcitrant and high-risk companies will also be placed on PUB’s surveillance list and subjected to more frequent inspections.

For severe cases where the illegal trade effluent discharge contains dangerous or hazardous substances, or a dangerously high concentration of regulated substances that can cause adverse consequences to the sewerage system and water reclamation process, PUB will not hesitate to issue an immediate stop-order notice to prevent the company from further discharging trade effluent into the public sewers. Such orders will be lifted only when the company has implemented the appropriate remedial measures. ​​​

​​​“Discharging dangerous or hazardous substances, or excessive amounts of regulated substances are irresponsible acts that can affect the operational integrity of the public sewerage system, disrupt the used water treatment process at the water reclamation plants, and pose health and safety hazards to the workers maintaining the system. PUB will not hesitate to prosecute companies which disregard our trade effluent regulations and impose harsher penalties on recalcitrant offenders. These repeat offenders 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,” said Mr Maurice Neo, Director of Water Reclamation Network.

​​​Under the Sewerage and Drainage Act, the illegal discharge of 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 maximum fine of $100,000 for repeat offenders.

Annex A: Companies prosecuted for illegal discharge into public sewers between June 2018 to May 2019​

​Annex B: PUB regulatory and monitoring regime

About PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency
PUB is a statutory board under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. It is the national water agency, and manages Singapore’s water supply, water catchment and used water in an integrated way.

PUB has ensured a diversified and sustainable supply of water for Singapore with the Four National Taps (local catchment water, imported water, NEWater, desalinated water).​​

​​PUB calls on everyone to play a part in conserving water, in keeping our waterways clean, and in caring for Singapore’s precious water resources. If we all do our little bit, there will be enough water for all our needs – for commerce and industry, for living, for life.

SOURCE: PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency