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Firm fined for illegally discharging waste into public sewers, tampering with PUB's monitoring equipment

Firm fined for illegally discharging waste into public sewers, tampering with PUB's monitoring equipment

A Google Street view of toxic industrial waste management company NSL Oilchem Logistics at Tuas Avenue 12.

SINGAPORE: A toxic industrial waste management company was fined S$17,000 after it illegally dumped trade effluent, or liquid waste, into public sewers on two separate occasions last year, said national water agency PUB on Wednesday (Nov 24). 

NSL Oilchem Logistics, which faced three charges, was convicted on Oct 12. 

This was the company's second conviction in court for similar offences, said PUB in the news release. 

Between August 2020 and October 2020, PUB's regular sampling regime detected "abnormally" high levels of regulated substances such as heavy metals on several occasions at night in the public sewers located in the Tuas area. 

The readings were traced to NSL Oilchem Logistics' premises at Tuas Avenue 12. 

On Sep 24, 2020, during a PUB routine inspection where samples of trade effluent were collected, the company was found to have discharged "non-compliant trade effluent" into public sewers.

The trade effluent contained heavy metals beyond the permissible levels, said PUB. 

On Oct 26, 2020, PUB officers carried out a surprise late-night inspection and caught its workers in the act of illegally dumping trade effluent. 

"This time, NSL Oilchem Logistics had also tampered with the monitoring equipment and sampling tubes placed at the inspection chamber to avoid detection by PUB," said the agency. 

As the company was a "repeat offender" and had tampered with PUB's monitoring equipment, the agency immediately revoked its written approval to discharge trade effluent into the sewers. 

It was only reinstated on Aug 17 this year, after the company had fulfilled conditions stipulated by PUB. These include reviewing the adequacy of treatment facilities for trade effluent and implementing appropriate measures to prevent similar offences in future. 

During this period, NSL Oilchem Logistics was not allowed to discharge any trade effluent from its premises into the sewers, said PUB. 

The company was previously convicted on Oct 30, 2018 over three similar charges under the Sewerage and Drainage (Trade Effluent) Regulations, for offences it committed on Jan 12, 2017 and May 9, 2017. It was fined S$12,200 as a result. 

Director of PUB's Water Reclamation Network Maurice Neo said the agency has a "zero-tolerance" policy towards the illegal discharge of non-compliant trade effluent into public sewers, as well as tampering with monitoring equipment to avoid detection. 

"Such acts disrupt our used water reclamation processes and also endanger the health and safety of our workers," said Mr Neo. 

“Used water is a precious resource in Singapore, and the integrity of Singapore’s public sewerage system is crucial to PUB’s operations," he added. 

The penalty for discharging hazardous substances is a fine of up to S$15,000, a jail term of up to three months, or both. 

Editor's Note: This story reflects the correct name for NSL Oilchem Logistics, following a correction issued by PUB to their initial statement.

Source: CNA/lk(gr)

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