Smouldering sludge cause of terrible odour in Springs

Some areas at the Erwat plant are still smouldering. Behind Lucas Joubert, a Strubenvale resident, Erwat t rucks are working around the clock to control the stench coming from the slugde paddies.

Smoke and a terrible odour coming from the Ancor waste water treatment plant in Ermelo Road, for the past week, has left residents infuriated.

Aleister Murray claims the stench in the area has been ongoing for the past 15 years.

According to Louise Schaap, smouldering sludge has caused serious visibility issues on the N17 highway and Ermelo Road.

“At times it was so thick visibility wasn’t even three metres,” she says.

Residents complained about their health stating they couldn’t breathe, and some experienced chest pains.

Inhaling the smoke coming from the allegedly smouldering sludge was more than Brian Meadows from Strubenvale could tolerate.

He says it was worse at night and in the early morning hours.

Another Strubenvale resident, Reinhold Rothballer, who lives near Ermelo Road, says the smoke and odour originated from smouldering sludge.

“We are dealing with a serious health issue here,” he says.

“The cause of the problem was a field fire, outside the premises, which skipped the fire barrier at Ancor.

“This fire caused combustion of the dried sludge in the sludge drying beds,” says Themba Gadebe, metro spokesperson.

He says the open fire could only be extinguished by flooding the drying beds with water, which was a slow process.

“At present Erwat is busy with the operation and according to information obtained from Erwat, an additional pump was brought in on Wednesday in efforts to speed up the process,” says Gadebe.

There is no intentional burning of any waste on the premises.

Erwat spokesperson Wanda Annandale says unfortunately this fire spread to the sludge paddies.

“We have been working unceasingly since Tuesday in an attempt to totally quench the smoldering and the smoke and will continue to do so until the problem has been resolved,” she says.

Due to the nature of the sludge composition and the resulting smouldering and smoking, she requests residents to remain patient while all measures are taken to resolve the issue.

Anna Robertson

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