MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services Department (EISD) Michael Sun has called for calm in Johannesburg as the city battles a pungent smell.
The smell is being experienced in the central and northern parts of Joburg, and Sun says it is “likely a fleeting event”.
“Upon instructing the city’s Air Quality Management Unit to urgently investigate the origin of the stench they have established the smell was wide-spread across the city which thankfully excludes the possibility of a localised source in Johannesburg,” Sun said.
“At this stage I urge the people of Johannesburg not to panic. It was concluded by EISD investigators that the city is potentially dealing with a cross-boundary pollution source. They believe that this is likely a fleeting event based on prevailing weather conditions and that the quality of air in Johannesburg remains at acceptable levels.”
According to Sun, the current weather system is conducive to the transportation of pollution from the Highveld Priority Area and the industrial complex of Mpumalanga, which runs more power generation and petrochemical industrial operations.
The ‘rotten egg’ smell observed by residents on Wednesday is commonly associated with Hydrogen Sulphide and could be likely associated with those types of operations.
“The city commands a network of 6 operational ambient Air Quality Station that are monitoring particulate matter, Sulphur dioxide, Oxides of Nitrogen and Ozone. The expertise controlling these stations within EISD will work with other spheres of government to track and identify the source of this smell,” Sun said.
The situation will be observed over the coming days as the weather system improves.
Gauteng provincial air quality officer Jacob Legadima has previously told The Citizen that the “sulphur smell” that is sometimes experienced in Joburg is the smell of hydrogen sulphide gas – which smells like rotten eggs – and is experienced due to air dispersion.
“One of the factors that influence air pollution is wind speed, direction, pressure and the temperature,” said Legadima.