After reports of hazy conditions in the east over the past few days, a light haze and burnt smell lingered in the air over Sengkang, Hougang and Serangoon early this morning (Feb 15), causing some to wonder if the smog had returned.
As it turned out, the cause was a fire at a landfill site in southern Johor.
In an advisory tonight, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said its Malaysian counterparts confirmed that a bush fire last Thursday evening had affected one of the cells at the landfill in Pasir Gudang in southern Johor.
The Malaysian authorities said they were working to put out the fire in the area and cap burnt areas with soil to prevent fires from recurring, it added. “They are monitoring the situation closely, to prevent the fire from spreading further.”
The air quality in Singapore remained in the moderate range today, with the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) ranging between 55 and 70 at 9pm. Readings peaked at 73 in the southern region at 9am, easing to 70 at 9pm.
“NEA will continue to monitor the air quality readings and notify the public if there are any changes to the PSI,” the agency said.
In a Facebook post tonight, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the Malaysian authorities are still trying to resolve the problem. “We stand ready to assist if requested,” he added.
Last October, the NEA said the threat of serious haze appeared to have been averted for the year, with the onset of the inter-monsoon season signalling the end of the traditionally dry period in the region. But last month turned out to be drier than usual for the second year running, with the dry phase of the North-east Monsoon setting in prematurely. Last Friday, some people reported hazy skies and a burning smell in eastern areas such as Pasir Ris, Tampines and Bedok.