Waste management firm fined $17,000 for illegal discharge into Tuas sewers

SINGAPORE – A waste management firm that was fined $12,200 in 2018 over illegal discharge of liquid waste was handed another penalty last month for a similar offence.

NSL Oilchem Logistics was fined $17,000 for the illegal discharge of trade effluent, or liquid waste created by businesses, into public sewers on two occasions.

It was convicted of three charges on Oct 12 for the two incidents last year – on Sept 24 and Oct 26.

National water agency PUB said on Wednesday (Nov 24) that between August and October last year, its regular sampling on several occasions detected abnormally high levels of regulated substances, such as heavy metals, and chemical oxygen demand (COD) at night in public sewers in Tuas. COD is a measure of water quality.

These readings were traced to NSL’s premises in Tuas Avenue 12.

During a routine inspection by PUB on Sept 24 last year, it found that NSL had discharged trade effluent containing heavy metals beyond permissible levels into public sewers.

On Oct 26 last year, PUB carried out a “surprise late-night inspection” and caught NSL personnel illegally discharging liquid waste.

PUB said: “This time, NSL had also tampered with the monitoring equipment and sampling tubes placed at the inspection chamber to avoid detection by PUB.”

Approval for the company to discharge waste into the sewers was revoked on that same day. It was reinstated on Aug 17 this year after NSL fulfilled conditions such as implementing measures to prevent a recurrence.

NSL was previously convicted of three similar charges and fined $12,200 in 2018 for offences committed in 2017.

Those who illegally discharge hazardous substances can be fined up to $15,000, jailed for up to three months, or both.

Mr Maurice Neo, director of PUB’s water reclamation network, said the agency will not hesitate to take action against offenders.

“Such acts disrupt our used water reclamation processes and also endanger the health and safety of our workers,” he added.