SINGAPORE (June 10): The Public Utilities Board (PUB) says it prosecuted 38 companies between June 2018 and May this year for illegal trade effluent discharge offences. These companies were fined a total of $253,700.

The offences were uncovered during site inspections and through PUB’s surveillance of the public sewerage system. The offences 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).

Among the companies prosecuted, 18 were repeated offenders that received harsher penalties.

Breadtalk was one of the companies that 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. The group was fined a total of $16,300.

Another repeated offender was printing and packaging company Tat Seng Packaging. It 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. The group was fined a total of $14,000.

Apart from harsher penalties, recalcitrant and high-risk companies will also be placed on PUB’s surveillance list and subjected to more frequent inspections.

And as for more 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 says that it will issue the company an immediate stop-order notice to prevent it from further discharging trade effluent into the public sewers.

Such orders will be lifted only when the company has implemented the appropriate remedial measures.

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.

Maurice Neo, director of Water Reclamation Network, says, “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.”