Gauteng stench

Photo: K. Sheppa / Flickr

Gauteng stench: Main culprit behind ‘headache-inducing odour’ identified

After an air quality alert was issued for Gauteng, the government is trying to find out where a foul stench – reported across the province – is coming from.

Gauteng stench

Photo: K. Sheppa / Flickr

A foul-smelling odour has plagued residents of Gauteng for the best part of the week, and the Environmental Department has vowed to get to the bottom of this issue. The government ministry confirmed it would probe the unpleasant stench, which continues to compromise the air quality in the province – and a ‘main culprit’ has already been identified.

SASOL plant linked to Gauteng stench

According to environmental experts, the unrelenting stench has been caused by ‘elevated levels of sulphur and hydrogen’ emanating from a Sasol plant in Mpumalanga. This pollutant causes an ‘eggy’ smell to linger, with scores of people reporting bouts of nausea and headaches as a result of breathing in this air.

“The Sasol Secunda Operations are believed to be the possible source of sulphur stench experienced in parts of Gauteng and Mpumalanga since the weekend. The stench is likely a combination of elevated levels of sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. The pollutant causes an odour nuisance even at concentrations far below those that cause health hazards.”

Sulphur, hydrogen mix ‘causing headaches and illness’

Last year, amendments were made to emissions laws, allowing Sasol and other plant operators to ramp up their operations. With more hazardous toxins being spewed into the atmosphere, residents of both Gauteng and Mpumalanga have been lumbered with this heinous stench – but ‘mitigation measures’ are now being explored:

“While there are many sources in the area that could be contributing to these elevated levels, the District Municipality’s Air Quality Officer has been informed that the Sasol Secunda operation is experiencing stressed conditions as the facility started ramping up operations. Once investigations are completed, authorities will decide on any further course of action.”

“People who are sensitive to unpleasant odours are likely to experience headaches and nausea. Authorities are in the process of requesting the Operations facility to account in terms of Section 30 of National Environmental Air Quality Management Act & to put mitigation measures in place, should they be found to be the source of the smell.”