Fleurhof residents are experiencing a rotten egg smell. They are deeply concerned about the safety of their homes as they face the effects of an alleged hydrogen sulphide smell. They have worried about their health as the toxic gas permeates the air. Ipeleng Mofokeng, a resident of Fleurhof since 2012, described the smell as akin to that of a rotten egg, acknowledging its unpleasantness and potential health hazards due to alleged hydrogen sulphide emissions. After researching the smell, she discovered that the emissions were causing cold-like symptoms in her family, with her daughter experiencing a blocked nose that progressed to a loss of smell. Faced with the lack of guidance from medical professionals, her husband, Tshepiso, expressed frustration and revealed that the only advice they received was to move away from the area.
The residents are experiencing physical symptoms such as constant fatigue and mild headaches and finding their homes increasingly uninhabitable. Despite the associated fire hazard, some residents have resorted to closing air vents to block out the smell. Ipeleng even shared her concern for her children’s well-being, covering them with blankets at night to protect them from inhaling toxins.
The Roodepoort Record sought answers from Nombuso Shabalala, the spokesperson for Johannesburg Water (JW), regarding the source of the smell. Shabalala explained that the issue originated in early April when raw sewage spilt into Fleurhof Dam due to a blocked maintenance hole caused by illegal mining activity. He clarified that the sewage flowing into the dam is responsible for the pervasive smell.
Ipeleng expressed her desire to know if there are protocols for such situations and whether the dam could be monitored, with feedback shared with residents. While there are updates on Facebook, the residents have yet to receive advice on protecting their health, similar to the guidance provided during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Tshepiso urgently stressed the seriousness of the situation, deeming it an emergency that demanded immediate action. He believed that authorities should have taken control of the situation as soon as they became aware. Ipeleng echoed his sentiments, stating that the authorities should prioritise the safety of human lives.
Shabalala explained that JW had identified the origin of the sewage spill as a 900mm outfall maintenance hole blocked by illegal miners using the water for their mining activities. The blockage likely consists of boulders, sandbags, soil, and other rubble. Unfortunately, JW cannot address the odour management until it resolves the spillage and blockage. Once JW addresses the spillage and blockage, the City of Joburg’s Environment, Infrastructure, and Service Delivery Department and JW will conduct water quality testing.
A meeting was held on April 12 at the contamination site, attended by a multi-disciplinary task team, stakeholders, and representatives from various organisations. Weekly engagements have been coordinated with the stakeholders by the ward councillor, fostering collaboration in search of a short-term solution. However, the illegal mining activity has destroyed the access road to the site, making it difficult for JW to reach the maintenance hole and unblock the sewer line. The priority is to create an access road and divert the watercourse to enable access to the maintenance hole. JW has sought assistance from the developer and the new pipeline contractor. Shabalala concluded by mentioning that unblocking the line would require a significant “combo jet vacuum machine” due to the volume of sewage, necessitating an adequate road for its access. Once the JW clears the maintenance hole, it can investigate any other impediments in the sewerage infrastructure.
As of now, Ward 70 councillor Caleb Finn has not commented on the matter.
Follow us on Google News.