A task team has been assembled to investigate the source of the stench that has been making Gauteng and North West residents uncomfortable for the past week.
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment has issued a Task team assembled on Friday, spokesman Albi Modise said.
The ministry and its provincial counterparts in Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West and Free State would implement a “proactive long-term program to improve the management of sulfur dioxide and Hydrogen are developing sulfide emission sources beyond the reactions prompted by public complaints.”
Modise said a meeting on Thursday “officially launched an investigation into the origins of the sulphurous odor believed to be it is most likely due to a combination of higher than average concentrations of sulfur dioxide and/or hydrogen sulphide in the air given the nature of this odor.
“In February 2021, similar sulphurous odor episodes were observed over Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
“Investigations by the Department and Licensing Offices into Atmospheric Emissions in the two provinces focused on Sasol Secunda’s operations as these facilities are known to be the major contributors to emissions of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.”
Modise said these investigations were inconclusive, however enforced, with a detailed report due next week.
“The task team will investigate possible disturbances experienced or reported by atmospheric emissions license holders in the past month that have the potential to cause large releasing amounts of sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide into the atmosphere,” he said.
Modise said reports on monitoring the environment Air quality reports on the state of the air in the region over the past month to focus on sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.
Surfur dioxide levels in the area reported by the SA Air Quality Information System showed elevated but compliant emissions .
“However, preliminary results show significantly elevated hydrogen sulfide levels around the Irene Monitoring Station in Centurion on June 7th. Potential sources that could affect these levels are identified based on the meteorological assessment.”
Modise said the task team would also investigate possible sources through inspections and compliance assessment of emissions monitoring reports.
” If violations are found, enforcement action will be taken,” he said.
“As a long-term plan, officials will conduct a detailed assessment of hydrogen sulfide sources in the four provinces. Atmospheric emission permit holders, wastewater treatment plants and landfills are prioritized as they are the most important contributors.
“Emission reduction and management plans are prepared for atmospheric emission permit holders to improve monitoring and management of hydrogen sulphide to reduce the risks of continued pollution episodes affecting the provinces.”
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