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NSL Oilchem Logistics fined $17k over illegal discharge and equipment tampering

25 Nov 2021

Singapore’s Public Utility Board (PUB) on Wednesday (24 November) announced the conviction of toxic industrial waste management company NSL Oilchem Logistics Private Limited (NSL Oilchem Logistics) on 12 October 2021.

The offenses were related to the illegal discharge of trade effluent into public sewers on two occasions – 24 September 2020 and 26 October 2020.

For the following incidents, NSL Oilchem Logistics faced three charges in court and was sentenced to a total fine of SGD 17,000. The second conviction in court for similar offences, said PUB.

Between August and October 2020, PUB’s regular sampling regime detected abnormally high levels of regulated substances such as heavy metals and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) 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 24 September 2020, during a routine inspection by PUB where samples of trade effluent were collected, NSL Oilchem Logistics was found to have discharged non-compliant trade effluent containing heavy metals beyond the permissible levels into the public sewers. 

In the following month, on 26 October 2020, PUB officers carried out a surprise late-night inspection and caught NSL Oilchem Logistics personnel in the act of illegally discharging trade effluence. NSL Oilchem Logistics had also tampered with the monitoring equipment and sampling tubes placed at the inspection chamber to avoid detection by PUB, it said.

As NSL Oilchem Logistics is a repeat offender and the group had tampered with PUB’s monitoring equipment, PUB immediately revoked its Written Approval to discharge trade effluent into the sewers on 26 October 2020. 

The approval was only reinstated on 17 August 2021 after the logistics company had fulfilled the conditions stipulated by PUB, which include reviewing the adequacy of treatment facilities for trade effluent and implementing appropriate measures to prevent recurrence of future acts of illegal discharge. 

In the course of time, NSL Oilchem Logistics was not allowed to discharge any trade effluent from its premises into the sewers.

NSL Oilchem Logistics was previously convicted on 30 Oct 2018 for three similar charges under Regulation 10 (1)(a) & (1)(c) of the Sewerage and Drainage (Trade Effluent) Regulations for offences committed on 12 January and 9 May 2017, amounting to a total of USD 12,200 in fines.

“Used water is a precious resource in Singapore, and the integrity of Singapore’s public sewerage system is crucial to PUB’s operations. We monitor the quality of used water in the sewers through a network of real-time sensors and regular used water sampling and analysis,” said Mr Maurice Neo, Director of PUB’s Water Reclamation Network.

“PUB has a zero-tolerance policy towards the illegal discharge of non-compliant trade effluent into public sewers, as well as any acts of tampering on monitoring equipment by trade premises to avoid detection. Such acts disrupt our used water reclamation processes and also endanger the health and safety of our workers. We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against offenders breaking the law.”

Under the Sewerage and Drainage (Trade Effluent) Regulations, the penalty for discharging hazardous substances is a fine of up to USD 15,000 or imprisonment for up to three months, or both.

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 25 November, 2021

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