Strong gas smell in north-east S'pore traced to industrial facility in Malaysia

VICTOR LOH Today Online 29 Sep 17;
SINGAPORE — The strong whiff of odour which plagued residential areas in the North-east of Singapore on Monday (Sept 25) has been traced to an industrial facility in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia.

The National Environment Agency said that it had contacted its counterpart in Malaysia, the Department of Environment (DOE) for the latter's assistance to investigate the gas-like smell on the same day.

"(The DOE) is taking action against the operator," NEA said in a statement posted on its Facebook page on Friday.

Checks by the NEA and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on factories in affected areas had initially failed to find any anomalies that could have caused the gas smell.

NEA's air monitoring stations in Singapore later detected low and safe levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air.

"VOCs can be human-made or naturally-occurring chemical compounds that easily enter the air as gases from some solids or liquids," NEA explained. "They are numerous, varied and commonly present, and each individual's reaction to VOCs may vary."

Complaints about the odour appeared on the online forums such as Reddit and Hardware Zone at about 5pm on Monday. Many netizens said that the smell appeared to be largely confined to the North-Eastern parts of Singapore in areas like Sengkang, Hougang, Buangkok and Ang Mo Kio.

At the time, SCDF deployed its "resources to investigate" and found nothing amiss, and was closely monitoring the situation together with the NEA.

"Our monitoring teams have not detected the presence of Toxic Industrial Chemicals in the air," the SCDF said in a Facebook post.

Air quality levels during the period were found to be well within safety limits.

"Since about 3pm (on Monday), winds were light and there was some convergence of winds over the northern half of Singapore, which might have led to an accumulation of smells in the northern area of Singapore," the NEA wrote in its post.

Similar complaints have surfaced in the past.

In 2013, there were complaints of a "foul odour" in Punggol and Sengkang. An NEA spokesman then said that the smell could have possibly "emanated from palm oil industries".

NEA however ruled out industries near Punggol as the cause of the smell, after inspections of their equipment, processes, operations and records "did not reveal any abnormalities or issues in their operations" that could be behind the "chemical smell as mentioned in the feedback".


Strong gas smell traced to Pasir Gudang industrial facility: NEA
Channel NewsAsia 29 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE: Reports of a strong smell which was detected at various locations of Singapore on Monday (Sep 25) has been traced to an industrial facility in Pasir Gudang, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).

The agency said on Friday it had contacted the Department of Environment (DOE) in Malaysia to seek its assistance in the investigation.

The DOE traced the source to an industrial facility in Pasir Gudang, Johor Baru and is taking action against the industrial facility operator, said NEA in a Facebook post.


Both NEA and the Singapore Civil Defence Force did not find any abnormal factory operations or incidents in Singapore after carrying out investigations and air quality measurements at the locations reported.

During the period when the smells were reported, NEA said that the convergence of winds over the northern half of Singapore and further light winds could have led to a slow dispersion of the smell.

Residents in many parts of Singapore, including Sengkang, Toa Payoh and Commonwealth, reported a strong odour on Monday afternoon and evening.


Monday's chemical stench traced to industrial facility in Pasir Gudang, Johor: NEA
Samantha Boh Straits Times 29 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE - The mystery chemical stench that cloaked the island on Monday (Sept 25) has been traced to an industrial facility in Pasir Gudang, Johor.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a Facebook post on Friday (Sept 29) that it contacted its counterpart in Malaysia, the Department of Environment (DOE), to seek its assistance after the smell was detected on Monday.

It said: "The DOE has deployed resources in identifying the source of the smell. It has traced the source to an industrial facility in Pasir Gudang, and is taking action against the operator."

NEA added that it will continue to monitor the air quality levels in Singapore.

A large zone in the 311-sq-km town of Pasir Gudang is dedicated to heavy industries, and fumes and pollutants from the area have drifted to Punggol in past incidents.

On Monday, complaints first poured in from residents in Sengkang and Punggol about an acrid, chemical stench that was later detected by people in estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Yishun, Seletar and Bishan. Thick smoke also hung over some of the affected areas, residents said.

The NEA said its officers and those from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) were sent to affected areas to carry out investigations and ambient air quality measurements immediately after they received the reports.

NEA officers checked factories in affected areas, and other possible sources of gas and chemical leaks.

"NEA and the SCDF did not find any abnormal factory operations or incidents in Singapore that could have caused the gas smell experienced," the NEA said.

It added that the winds were light and there was also some convergence of winds over the northern half of Singapore during the period when smells were reported.

"This might have led to an accumulation, and slow dispersion, of smells in that area," it said.

NEA added that air monitoring stations here detected low and safe levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air.

VOCs can be human-made or naturally-occurring chemical compounds that easily enter the air as gases from some solids or liquids.

They are numerous, varied and commonly present, and each individual's reaction to VOCs may vary.

Chemical smell across Singapore traced to Johor
Samantha Boh Straits Times 30 Sep 17;

The chemical stench that cloaked the island on Monday came from the industrial town of Pasir Gudang in Johor, investigations have revealed.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday that its Malaysian counterpart, the Department of Environment (DOE), had identified the source of the smell, and would be taking action .

"The DOE has deployed resources in identifying the source of the smell. It has traced the source to an industrial facility in Pasir Gudang, and is taking action against the operator," it said. The Malaysian authorities were not immediately available to comment on which facility was at fault, or the composition of the gas.

NEA stressed yesterday that air quality in Singapore has remained at safe levels since Monday, and it will continue to monitor the situation.

A large zone in the 311 sq km town of Pasir Gudang is dedicated to heavy industries, and fumes and pollutants have drifted to Punggol in past incidents. The industrial estate, established in the 1990s, is a little more than 1.5 km across the Strait of Johor from Punggol, and controlled burning to get rid of waste gases is a common occurrence there. The town is home to a port, power station and petrochemical companies, as well as those dealing with edible oils, steel and fertiliser.

On Monday, complaints poured in from residents in Sengkang and Punggol, and later in Ang Mo Kio, Yishun, Seletar and Bishan, about an acrid, chemical smell. The NEA said its officers and those from the Singapore Civil Defence Force were sent to affected areas to investigate and test air quality. Checks of factories in affected areas revealed no abnormal operations or any other possible sources of gas and chemical leaks.

Light winds over the northern half of Singapore at the time might have led to an accumulation and slow dispersion of smells, it added.

While those affected were afraid that the gas was toxic, the NEA assured the public that air monitoring stations here detected only low and safe levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. VOCs are chemical compounds that easily enter the air. "They are numerous, varied and commonly present, and each individual's reaction to VOCs may vary," the NEA said.

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