SINGAPORE: A total of 119 companies have been prosecuted for illegally discharging trade effluent, or liquid waste, into sewers since 2014, said Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor in Parliament on Tuesday (Aug 6).
Twenty-one of those companies are second-time offenders, while another 23 committed the offence three or more times.
Dr Khor was responding to questions from Non-constituency Member of Parliament Daniel Goh on the number of companies that have been taken to task for such offences in the last five years.
“Under the Sewage and Drainage Act, companies have to obtain written approvals from PUB before they can discharge industrial used water or trade effluent into the sewers,” said Dr Khor.
"Any discharge has to comply with stipulated quality requirements."
Dr Khor said that about 5,000 companies have been given written approval by PUB to discharge trade effluent into sewers.
“Majority actually comply with the requirements under which they can discharge trade effluent into the public sewers," she added. "But from time to time, there are some who do not comply. And PUB takes this very seriously."
In June, it was announced that 38 companies were prosecuted by national water agency PUB between June 2018 and May 2019 for the illegal discharge of trade effluent into public sewers.
The companies were fined a total of S$253,700.
Bakery and food manufacturing company BreadTalk was given the highest fine among the 38 companies for multiple instances of discharging liquid waste into sewers.
MEASURES IN PLACE
According to Dr Khor, PUB has a “comprehensive programme” to deal with discharge that do not comply with quality requirements, such as online sensors in public sewers for monitoring and early detection, regular inspections and engagement with companies to comply with quality requirements.
When companies are found to have discharged waste illegally, PUB may suspend or revoke the written approval granted to the company, she said.
“For severe cases where the discharge contains toxic, dangerous or hazardous substances, PUB will issue an immediate stop-order notice to prevent the company from further discharging trade effluent into the public sewers.
“The order will be lifted only when the company has implemented remedial measures,” Dr Khor added.
“If (companies without written approval) want to continue business, they will have to engage the services of a licensed toxic industrial waste collector."
Repeat offenders, apart from facing harsher penalties, will be subject to increase surveillance and unannounced visits of up to twice a month.
Some companies will be required to install their own online water quality monitoring sensors, explained Dr Khor.
"We take a serious view of illegal discharge of trade effluent into our sewers," she said. "We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against companies that threaten the quality of our water supply."