So. Africa: Environmental rights groups challenge Eskom on bid to avoid meeting pollution limits
‘Green groups battle dirty Eskom’ 19 February 2020
Environmental organisations are vehemently opposing power utility Eskom’s application to delay or avoid meeting pollution limits emitted from its coal-powered electricity-generating stations. The Life After Coal campaign – consisting of groundWork, Earthlife Africa and the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) – have accused Eskom of seeking permission to circumvent South Africa’s air pollution laws.
The power utility has applied for permission not to meet the country’s minimum emission standards. Eskom submitted its application to the department of environment, forestry and fisheries on November 29, in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004. It requested permission to suspend the implementation of the minimum emission standards for its Acacia and Port Rex peaking gas power stations, and its Grootvlei, Matimba and Medupi coal power stations.
In his 21-month study, which ended in December 2017, Sahu found that Eskom exceeded limits, despite being granted lower licence conditions on pollution. Research shows that emissions from power stations cause people living near them to suffer from various respiratory diseases, such as asthma and bronchitis. In addition, statistics show that polluted air from Eskom’s power stations accounts for 2 200 premature deaths annually. Sahu found that illness cost the country more than R33 billion annually through hospital admissions and lost working days. He stated in his report that Eskom had exceeded its limits on all three regulated pollutants for coal plants: sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter, including soot and ash.