SINGAPORE – Chemical-like, metallic, toxic, burnt – that was how residents in Sengkang and Hougang described the mysterious smell that pervaded their estates at around 5pm yesterday.
And the "large number of complaints" – about 100 in total – poured in from even further, such as Punggol, Seletar Hills, Serangoon Gardens and Toa Payoh North, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said, even as its measurements of air quality detected no toxic gases.
Ms Judith Koh, 30, one of a dozen who called the MediaCorp News Hotline, smelled the odour as she exited onto Jalan Kayu Road from Seletar Expressway. "I initially thought there was something wrong with my car."
A police spokesman advised the public "to not jam up the ‘999’ hotline", though, and to wait for updates from the NEA after receiving "several" calls to the emergency number.
The NEA is investigating the cause of the smell. "NEA has also contacted its Malaysian counterparts to check whether any unusual smell has been detected in Johor," said a spokesperson.
This is not the first time Sengkang residents have had to put up with such odours. In February, they experienced smoky air from bush fires and, last month, a 200-tonne mound of rotting food and wood chips dumped at a construction site emitted a foul stench.
This latest odour was different, some said. "It’s metallic and toxic – it’s not a smell I’ve come across before," said Sengkang resident Patrick Sim, 31.
But Sengkang resident Clarence Tey, who lives opposite Johor’s Pasir Gudang Port, said it was a "common occurrence" after "heavy rain and a change in the wind direction". Esther Ng