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  • Remember that stench over GP and NW? The cause has been found

    Remember that stench over GP and NW? The cause has been found

    The cause of the stench that hovered over parts of Gauteng and the North West last month has finally been found, and the weather conditions are part of it.

    Last month, a sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide smell reeked throughout parts of the provinces. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment as well as the provincial departments finally found the cause.


    The cause of the stench was found to be a probable combination of weather events and emissions from industries, said the department’s spokesperson Albi Modise.

    ALSO READ: What’s that stench? Johannesburg being CHOKED by ‘sulphur cloud’

    “The task team’s interim internal report, handed to [the Department’s] Minister Barbara Creecy, reflects that the sulphur smell may have emanated from industry operations in Secunda and Mpumalanga regions and as a result of unusual air circulation patterns that saw the smell being blown over Gauteng and parts of the North West during the week of 5 to 12 June 2022.”

    Albi Modise


    The task team continues to probe whether there is an industrial emergency that contributed to the unbearable stench. Meteorological conditions will also be assessed to see if they played a role in this, said Modise.

    But the interim investigations show that a low-pressure system in the north of the Mozambique channel caused a relatively unusual circulation pattern over the region during the days of the boiled egg-like odour.

    “These conditions may have created prevailing south-easterly winds that transported air pollution from Mpumalanga into Gauteng and the North West, particularly over Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Pretoria,” Modise explained.


    The stench that hovered over parts of Gauteng and the North West. This shows the general pollution levels in Gauteng at the time. PHOTO: Ventusky

    Complaints from the public about the sulphurous odour coincided with incidents when sulphur dioxide levels were higher than usual during that period. These levels were unlikely to cause any health effects to surrounding communities.

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

    “The Task Team is to investigate and recommend possible policy interventions to further reduce hydrogen sulphide pollution and address concerns around public safety and the possible long-term health effects of exposure in order to improve the management of sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide emission sources beyond the responses triggered by public complaints.”

    The ongoing investigation will include engagements with industries from the areas where hydrogen sulphide is of concern. This is to discuss short-term and long-term management of sulphurous odorants, Modise said.

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