Singaporean bakery chain Breadtalk fined over S$16,000 for dumping oily wastewater into public sewers

Popular bakery chain Breadtalk, alongside 37 other companies, has been fined by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) for illegally dumping trade effluent into Singapore’s sewers, the agency said in a statement on Monday (June 10).

Trade effluent is wastewater contaminated with chemicals, detergents, oil and grease, and metals like mercury or lead.

The offences were discovered during site inspections and surveillance of the public sewer system, and the companies were fined a total of S$253,700 between June 2018 and May 2019, PUB said.

Among the 38 companies, 18 repeat offenders – including Breadtalk – were given harsher penalties.

Breadtalk was fined S$16,300 for two occasions of dumping wastewater containing grease and oil above the legal limit from its water treatment plant in 2016 and 2017.

PUB said the wastewater had not undergone adequate treatment.

Previously, the company had been slapped with six charges, totalling a fine of $19,000, for breaking the same law.

“Trade effluent that is illegally discharged into public sewers poses significant risks to public health and the environment… these types of acts can cause fires in the sewers and may threaten PUB’s treatment of used water,” the agency said.

Other offenders include toxic waste collector NSL Oilchem Logistics – which dumped wastewater with sulphate and zinc concentrations 68 times higher than legal limit – and engineering company KMS Industrial, which discharged trade effluent containing high concentrations of dangerous substances that could have caused fires downstream.

The PUB said it will conduct more frequent inspections on recalcitrant and high-risk companies, and in serious cases, will suspend rule-breaking companies from discharging trade effluent entirely until they implement remedial measures.

Under the Sewerage and Drainage Act, the illegal discharge of trade effluent containing dangerous or hazardous substances into a public sewer carries a fine of up to $50,000 for the first offence, and a maximum fine of $100,000 for repeat offenders.