LEGAL | Staff Reporter, Singapore

BreadTalk fined for illegally discharging into public sewers

It was part of the 38 companies fined a total of $253,700.

Thirty eight companies, including BreadTalk Group, were fined a total of $253,700 by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) for illegally discharging into public sewers, an announcement revealed.

“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),” PUB said, adding that these types of acts can cause fires in the sewers and may threaten PUB’s treatment of used water.
Amongst the 38 companies, 18 were repeat offenders and given harsher penalties. Breadtalk 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 $16,300.

Recalcitrant offender Tat Seng Packaging Group 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, electro-plating company Metal Treatment Technology (S), and engineering and machinery company KMS Industrial. They were fined $12,200, $11,300 and $10,500 r​​​​espectively.

NSL Oilchem Logistics 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) 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, PUB said.

“​​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 added.

PUB carries out surveillance of trade and industrial premises through regular inspections. Beyond harsher penalties, recalcitrant and high-risk companies will also be placed on PUB’s surveillance list and subjected to more frequent inspections.

“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 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.

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