Toxic industrial waste collection company Cramoil Singapore Pte Ltd has been fined $16,600 for the illegal discharge of trade effluent containing prohibited substances into the public sewers. The company’s actions risked compromising the integrity of Singapore’s public sewerage system – an important cog in PUB’s used water treatment process.
In April 2018, operations at PUB’s Jurong Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) were affected when it received used water containing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These were subsequently traced to Cramoil’s premises at 4 Tuas View Lane. On 15 April 2018, PUB officers conducted overnight operations and caught Cramoil in the act of discharging industrial used water containing VOCs into the public sewer.
Tests found that the industrial used water discharged by the company had contained 13 different types of prohibited VOCs1. The concentration levels of some of these VOCs were dangerously high and posed the following risks:
- Causing fire or explosion in the public sewerage system and damaging it;
- Endangering the safety and health of PUB staff maintaining the public sewerage network and working at Jurong WRP; and
- Impacting the used water treatment operations at water reclamation plants, which can pose grave environmental consequences, and adversely affect PUB’s ability to produce NEWater.
PUB’s investigations identified a number of serious deficiencies and lapses in Cramoil’s treatment facilities and operations, including in the handling of toxic material and the lack of staff supervision.
To protect the public sewerage system, our treatment processes, and the health and safety of our staff, PUB took the unprecedented step of imposing a stop-order notice on Cramoil – under the Sewerage and Drainage Act (SDA) – on 23 April 2018, which immediately barred the company from discharging any more used water into public sewers. PUB only lifted the notice more than a month later, on 30 May 2018, after Cramoil had completed implementing necessary remedial measures.
On 14 January 2020, Cramoil pleaded guilty in court and was convicted of two charges – under the SDA, and the Sewerage and Drainage (Trade Effluent) Regulations respectively. Four other charges had been taken into consideration.
“Let this be a clear signal that PUB adopts a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to safeguarding our public sewerage system. Given the toxic and hazardous nature of waste material that industrial waste collectors handle on a regular basis, Cramoil should have ensured that its treatment facilities were equipped to treat the large amount of waste material it was processing. For severe cases, a stop-order notice – which halts a company from operating – will be imposed to protect the integrity of our water system,” said Mr Maurice Neo, PUB’s Director of Water Reclamation Network.
“Apart from our regular engagement efforts to educate companies on the dangers of such acts, PUB employs the latest technology to monitor illegal discharge into the public sewers and identify the perpetrators. PUB will not hesitate to come down hard on those found guilty, and press for deterrent penalties for repeat offenders.”