methane cloud mpumalanga

Photo: Pulse GHGsat

Not good: A massive ‘methane cloud’ has been detected in South Africa

It’s one of the most harmful gasses on the planet – and the discovery of a methane cloud in SA is now being investigated by environmental officials.

methane cloud mpumalanga

Photo: Pulse GHGsat

Scientists have revealed that a major ‘methane cloud‘ has been found above one of South Africa’s most polluted regions. The discovery has put environmentalists on high alert, and attempts to find the culprits are still ongoing.

Where is the methane cloud in South Africa?

The methane cloud registered on the radars of Kayrros SAS last month. The analytics company studies data released by the European Space Agency and its satellite observations – and some strange activity was detected above the skies of Mpumalanga and its coal mines. The ‘methane hot-spot’ was found 120km west of Johannesburg, on 10 May.

Kayrros also found two other plumes in the vicinity on May 27, but it was the earlier methane cloud that set the alarm bells ringing, with emissions sending about 65 tonnes of the gas into the atmosphere PER HOUR – gargantuan figures, by anyone’s definition. SASOL, who operate in this part of Mpumalanga, has denied any responsibility.

Why the Mpumalanga methane cloud is so dangerous

SASOL has made it clear that, on the aforementioned dates, their readings were no different than usual. Anglo American have also rejected any claims that they sparked the huge cloud of toxic gas…

  • – Methane can trap about 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide can
  • – SASOL is required to shutdown operations if their methane output reaches 1%
  • – Officials claim that their data never got above 0.05% on the aforementioned dates.
  • – According to Kayrros, it was the worst methane cloud detected in Africa this year.

Pollution in Mpumalanga ‘leading to deaths’

Mpumalanga itself has a shocking level of air quality, due to the relentless industrialisation of its rural areas. The province is home to several Eskom power plants, as well as a high concentration of coal mines.

Pollution in the region is also being blamed on thousands of ‘premature deaths’. The highveld is one of the worst-hit areas, and experts believe the damaging balance of oxygen and harmful gasses is now leading to fatal consequences.