Netizens slam authorities’ apathy after residents near former Kallang Gasworks experience terrible odours, noise pollution

A number of residents living near the area of the former Kallang Gasworks have raised complaints over fetid odour and unceasing noise coming from the remediation site.

Some residents even noted that they’re falling sick more frequently in recent months with cough, nose and eye irritation as well as other ailments.

The former Kallang Gasworks sits on a 3.14ha site along the Rochor river since 1862, and closed operations permanently more than a century later in 1998. It was then demolished in 2003.

In February last year, the remediation works to get rid of the chemicals in the soil began. However, this is when the residents noted that they’ve started suffering from these unpleasant experiences.

The remediation works are expected to be completed by end-2022, and upon completion, the land will be redeveloped into a car-lite waterfront district which comprises of nearly 4,000 new private residential units.

In response to the complaints from the residents, authorities have said that the gas released into the air is treated and emissions are well within regulatory limits. Additionally, authorities noted there is also no proof to suggest that the fumes from the site directly points to the health complaints reported by residents.

Residents express their predicament

In a report by TODAY, residents voiced that since the remediation system operates around-the-clock, they have been suffering from terrible fumes coming from the site throughout the day, except for when the wind is not blowing in the direction of their residences.

They also suffered from symptoms like runny nose, cough, nausea and breathing difficulties.

Besides that, they are disturbed at all hours due to the loud noises.

For those who are unaware, within a 100m radius of the old Kallang Gasworks, there are 3,550 residents from three private condominiums and six Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks. They are Citylights Condominium, Kallang Riverside Condominium, Southbank Condominium, HDB Blocks 466 to 468 on Crawford Lane, and HDB Blocks 813 to 815 on Jellicoe Road.

One resident living at Block 468, who wanted to be known only as Mr H Teo, told TODAY that he experienced allergy-like symptoms since the start of the remediation works. He said that the doctor explained to him that the irritations to his eyes and nose as well as an eyelid infection, was most probably due to exposure to air pollution.

Given that the symptoms have been persistent, he visited the doctor again on Wednesday (17 March).

Some residents pointed out that they resorted to closing their windows and switching on the air-conditioner for the whole day to reduce the effects of the fumes, but to no avail.

Authorities respond

A spokesperson from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said to TODAY that emissions and intermittent odours are to be around throughout the duration of the soil remediation works, just like any remediation site.

It added that the air released from the site has also been treated and does not pose any adverse health risks to the community working and living within the vicinity.

Despite that, 139 reports have been made from the public between February and June last year. To this, the authorities said steps to mitigate the effects of the odour and noise coming from the site have been taken.

For example, a new treatment system was implemented to remove odour-causing compounds. As for the noise issue, SLA replaced the old generators with new models. Additional soundproof padding was also placed around noise generating equipment.

It added that these measures were put in place between 19 June and 13 December last year. Once the works resumed on 14 December following the suspension due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of complaints reduced to 25 as of Thursday (18 March), said SLA.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) also asserted that following assessment of both the noise levels and emission readings, it found that the levels were within its regulatory limits.

If that’s not all, air quality readings for this month for chemicals carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide, as well as daily maximum volatile organic compounds or hydrocarbon emissions at the site, were within limits.

As for noise meter readings, SLA provided data for three condominiums, namely Citylights, Southbank and Kallang Riverside, from 7pm to 6am from 26 October to 4 November last year, as well as from 4 March to 10 this year, TODAY reported.

Based on the readings, the noise meter readings for both durations did not exceed the limits set by NEA.

When asked to show the readings before the mitigating measures were put in place, SLA said it “could not provide the readings that were taken before the mitigating measure were put in place because it will take some time to collate the data from the contractor”.

However, it emphasised that the readings were within NEA’s regulatory limits.

Netizens’ react

Over on social media, online users slammed the authorities for not doing much to solve the bad odour and loud noise issues at the site.

Penning their thoughts on the Facebook page of TODAY, many expressed that the smell near the area is really bad and that it has been around for years now.

One user particularly said that the place is “really smelly, irritating and annoying”. The user added that each time he walk past the area, he feels like fainting, noting that he can imagine how much the residents are suffering living in their units.

Another user said that someone needs to “die first” due to the pollution before the authorities will look into the matter seriously and take action.

Others said that the “authorities” should be made to live near the area to understand the predicament of the people there. They said that only then will the authorities do something drastic to improve the situation.

Another user advised the affected residents to move away if they care about their health and their loved ones. “Not wise to stay on the land with gasworks as there are too much chemicals in the soil which will take centuries to remove. It’s not believable the fumes are non toxic esp when the emissions come from the attempt to remove the toxic and heavy chemicals in the soil.”

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